Heard of DataBar? Here’s a quick run down…

databar on fresh produce

In this special two-part series, we explore the world of DataBar, what it is, who’s using it and how it will impact manufacturers and retailers.

The countdown is on for the next big thing that will have a huge impact on the way retailers and manufacturers do business – GS1 DataBar. From 2014, the new barcode can be used globally in open trade on any product. Are you ready?

In fact, GS1 DataBar is already being used. Look closely and you will see it on some loose produce and other products on limited trials. And in just a few weeks you’ll see a lot more of it. That’s because from next year, DataBar will be an open global standard: manufacturers will be able to use it on any product intended for point of sale — just like existing EAN/UPC barcodes.

So what is DataBar?

GS1 DataBar is a family of seven bar codes, four of which can be read at point-of-sale – GS1 DataBar Omnidirectional, GS1 DataBar Stacked Omnidirectional, GS1 DataBar Expanded and GS1 DataBar Expanded Stacked. These barcodes join the existing GS1 barcode family as another option for data capture, and bring huge potential to transform the way retailers do business.

Who uses DataBar?

Retailers and manufacturers are using DataBar in three main ways:

1. Fresh, loose produce, such as apples, pears, tomatoes and so on.

2. Variable-measure fresh produce, including meat, seafood and cheese.

3. Small and hard-to-mark consumer goods, such as cosmetics, jewellery, DIY hardware and pharmaceuticals.

DataBar is now being used around the world, in Poland, the UK, USA, Belgium, Luxembourg, Chile, Korea … the list goes on. GS1 Australia has good examples of how different countries are using DataBar.

What’s the difference between Omnidirectional and Expanded versions?

The difference between these two comes down to size and how much information can be encoded in them:

  • Omnidirectional versions can be smaller than the existing EAN/UPC barcodes, meaning they can be used on the small products that are currently difficult to barcode (hardware, loose produce, cosmetics, etc.).
  • Expanded versions allow users to encode additional information, such as expiry dates, weights, batch numbers, serial numbers and more. This is particularly important for retailers and manufacturers striving to meet increasingly stringent customer demands and regulatory requirements.

What are the benefits?

One major advantage for manufacturers is that DataBar enables better consumer communication on the pack, but takes up less space than existing barcodes. That’s very good news in light of food and health packaging regulations — which will only grow tighter. For example, because of strict regulatory requirements, manufacturers have to put a certain amount of text on products — no matter how small they are — and that means less panel space to communicate with customers. DataBar helps solve this problem.

For retailers, GS1 DataBar allows products that have previously not been barcoded to be quickly and accurately scanned at point-of-sale. It can also enable traceability, with some versions allowing more information to be encoded that can be read at POS.

Another advantage is that it can provide for automated markdowns, thereby improving stock rotation, product replenishment and eliminating non-sales at store level. Check out some more benefits in this DataBar brochure.

Are DataBar barcodes harder to print than normal barcodes? 

No, printing Omnidirectional DataBar barcodes and Expanded DataBar barcodes is just as simple as printing EAN/UPC barcodes. As a GS1 Strategic Alliance Partner, Matthews has a range of solutions that are suitable to print DataBar, including thermal transfer overprinting (for snack food, confectionary and fresh produce), label printers and laser coding and marking. Contact us to go through your printing requirements.

How can I find out more?

GS1 Australia has a comprehensive website, with information that can help you implement DataBar. You can also call 1300 BARCODE (1300 227 263) and speak to one of their experts, or register to attend one of GS1’s Numbering and Barcoding Classroom Training sessions to learn more.

In Part 2 of our DataBar series, we’ll look at how major retailers are preparing for it. Stay tuned!

Mark Dingley
Mark Dingley is Chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) and is the CEO at Matthews Australasia. With 25 years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with industry associations in developing and implementing standards & best practice, Mark is able to assist manufacturers with a range of issues from getting real-time visibility of their production line, improving automation, establishing quality assurance using machine vision to selecting the best fit technology for coding and labelling applications. Mark Dingley's LinkedIn Profile
Mark Dingley

by Mark Dingley

Mark Dingley is Chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) and is the CEO at Matthews Australasia. With 25 years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with industry associations in developing and implementing standards & best practice, Mark is able to assist manufacturers with a range of issues from getting real-time visibility of their production line, improving automation, establishing quality assurance using machine vision to selecting the best fit technology for coding and labelling applications. Mark Dingley's LinkedIn Profile

4 thoughts on “Heard of DataBar? Here’s a quick run down…

  1. Rod Averbuch says:

    The new GS1 Databar enables fresh food waste reduction. The large amount of global food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. We should address the fresh food waste problem in every link in our fresh food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of perishable food items close to their expiration on supermarket shelves causes waste.
    The consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior might be one of the weakest links of the fresh food supply chain.
    Supermarkets will be able to offer to consumers purchasing incentives for perishables approaching their expiration dates, before they end up in a landfill, with the help of the new GS1 Databar.
    The automatic “End Grocery Waste” application, which is based on GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue and makes fresh food affordable for all families while effectively reducing the global carbon footprint. You can look this application up at EndGroceryWaste site.

    Rod,
    Chicago, IL

  2. Jacquie says:

    Hi Mark,
    I understand that packaged food in Australia has to have a “used by date “or “best before date”.
    However, what I don’t unstand is that with produce you can have a “packed on date” and or a “used by date”. Why would you not just have a “pack on date”? Then people working in the industry can mark items down based on quality not on “used by dates”. Also this would reduce waste.

    Kind regards
    Jacquie Gadsby

    • Mark says:

      Hi Jacquie,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Date marks give a guide to how long food can be kept before it begins to deteriorate or may become unsafe to eat.
      The two types of date marking are use by dates and best before dates. The food supplier is responsible for placing a use by or best before date on food.
      Foods that must be eaten before a certain time for health or safety reasons should be marked with a use by date. Foods should not be eaten after the use by date and can’t legally be sold after this date because they may pose a health or safety risk.
      By running with a Packed on Date, the consumer has no way of telling how long the perishable item has before the use by. I believe this would contribute to the sale of items well past use by and therefore put the consumers at risk.

      Mark

  3. Pingback: Who's ready for DataBar around the world?

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