Barcodes can be found all around us, from the items that we buy in shops to billboards that provide people with more information. With the advancement of technology, barcode labels have also developed from when they were first introduced to the UK in 1979.
One of the many industries that use barcodes is in the food industry, but why and how is it used? And are there any advantages with adding barcodes to food packaging?
How Are Barcodes Used on Food Packaging?
The most important aspect of barcodes on food packaging is that they can help manage the supply chain when various food items are distributed. For single fruits, such as bananas, oranges, and melons, barcodes are great for keeping track of how many items are in the supply line and how many have been distributed. For bulk products, barcodes are great for tracking purposes, as well as stock management and making sure that each product is of the highest quality.
Above all else, barcodes are predominantly used to trace every single product that is in the supply chain. With this, companies have to follow specific rules and regulations set by the government in order to prevent any waste and to improve and enhance the product information for the consumers.
History of Barcoding in the Food Industry
Barcodes have their origins in the transportation industry, on the Pennsylvania Railroad. They needed a way to automatically identify railroad cars, and their KarTrak system that used blue and red stripes and six-digit identifiers were considered to be the first recognisable barcoding system.
However, barcodes as we know them today were first designed for the supermarket sector, as there was a need for a system that automatically read product information at the checkout.
In 1974, a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum was the first item in the world to have its Universal Product Code (UPC) barcode scanned at the supermarket checkout in Ohio. The receipt for this transaction is on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
Today, UPC barcodes are pre-printed on most items in shops and supermarkets. They speed up the check-out process, help to track stock and reduce shoplifting. They also allow shops to offer special deals and discounts that can be applied at the check-out automatically when the barcode is scanned.
Check-outs aren’t even needed in some instances, as many supermarket chains now allow customers to use their own mobile barcode scanner to speed up the shopping process. They allow them to scan as they shop, and then they simply pay and leave, skipping the check-out queues entirely.
Is Barcoding Changing the Food Industry Now?
The answer to this question is simple; yes. Currently, with the population of the planet reaching a staggering 7.3 billion, one of the biggest problems that the world is facing is the sheer amount of food waste that is present. Every year, the average person produces nearly 215 kilograms of food waste. That accounts for a total of approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of waste every year; that’s roughly equal to one-third of all food produced.
However, one company is planning on tackling this food waste crisis with the implementation of barcodes on food packaging. According to GS1 UK, the UK’s top industry facilitator, a barcode for fresh food that incorporates best before and use by dates could cut food waste.
The barcode, known as the DataBar, is used in various countries around the world, but unusually not the UK. But GS1 UK’s CEO Gary Lynch says that it could soon be the time where retailers, suppliers, and others start adopting the barcode.
Barcodes on food packing is a great way to monitor, track, and ensure that every single product that goes on the supply line is of extremely high quality. Barcoding your assets can help control the amount of stock that you have coming into your business, as well as ensuring that you don’t lose any products along the way.
At GSM Barcoding, we are able to supply and install the very best asset tracking systems, making sure that your business runs as smoothly and effectively as possible. If you would like to know more information with regards to our barcoding software, then please don’t hesitate to contact us. Just give us a call today on 01833 637 647 (Northern Office) or 01582 869 000 (Southern Office) and we will be more than happy to help with any enquiries you may have.