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Luigi Pistilli: The GS1 DataBar proves size isn’t everything

October 16, 2013 1 Comment » Print Print

Every year in the UK, 18 million tonnes of food is wasted according to the Food Aware Organisation at a cost of £23 billion per annum

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More surprisingly, around two thirds of this wastage comes from producers and retailers even before it has reached the consumer.   By its very nature, fresh food is perishable and therefore needs to be managed very carefully to ensure only the right amount of product is ordered and can be sold within its sell-by date.

High levels of wastage from the retailers is often associated with a lack of logistical data which can result in difficulties in forecasting and stock control.  The new GS1 DataBar however, which becomes an open industry standard from January 2014, can not only reduce food and stock wastage but also provides  many additional benefits for retailers and suppliers.

Existing bar codes for retail point of sale (POS) include the EAN-13, which identifies products through the use of Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs).  However their use is limited in that they only include product ID numbers.

The new GS1 DataBar is smaller than existing bar codes and can therefore be applied to a much wider range of small – and hard to mark products – such as individual fruit and vegetables, cosmetics, DIY hardware and pharmaceutical products.  Its reduced size also increases space on product packaging and labels that can be used by manufacturers for brand identity and promotional messages.  In addition, the GSI DataBar is capable of carrying much more data than previous codes, including price, weight, sell-by and expiry dates, as well as serialised batch codes and unique product identification numbers.

By using the GS1 DataBar, suppliers and retailers have the additional benefit of obtaining real-time logistical data for improved product replenishment and out of stock anticipation.  Furthermore, it can prevent the sale of outdated stock, improve coupon and voucher control and products can be scanned at POS much quicker, increasing customer throughput.

While not a replacement for existing bar codes, the GS1 DataBar is just another option that provides suppliers and retailers with greater opportunities to maximise efficiencies.   Variable Measure Produce for example, such as pre-packed meats, seafood, cheese, vegetables and fruit punnets is one area that I believe would benefit significantly from the introduction of the GS2 DataBar and can easily be delivered through existing Thermal Transfer Overlay (TTO) coding technology.  Furthermore, its ability to carry additional identification codes will also ensure it is capable of meeting the ever increasing challenges of future supply chain traceability and consumer safety legislation.

Luigi Pistilli is business development manager, UK at Domino