What’s Next for the Bar Code

The future of bar codes in the food industry

By Nazmul Islam | Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Following the 2013 launch of the Next Generation Product Identifier (NGPI) project by The Consumer Goods Forum (TCGF) and GS1, FIA had the opportunity to speak to Mr. John Keogh, Founder and Managing Principal at supply chain advisory firm Shantalla Inc. A former Senior Vice President at GS1 Canada and adviser to GS1 Global Office, Mr. Keogh is working with Food Industry Asia from his regional base in Vietnam and recently shared his views on the future of bar codes in the food industry, and the relevance of the NGPI project to food companies in Asia. 

food-bar-codeFIA: What is the NGPI project and how will it change the bar code?

John: New challenges are driving change in the consumer, retail and regulatory environments that stress the capability of today’s barcoding and item numbering systems used on all food products. I should explain that the physical bar code on a food product is actually called a “data carrier” and the human readable item number is called a “Global Trade Item Number,” or GTIN. So in essence, the project aims to determine how industry should adapt to these new challenges and determine if a more advanced data carrier and item numbering scheme is required on the product or packaging to cater to the evolving use-cases. The current bar code has been an unprecedented global success and this year, GS1 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first bar code scan at a point-of-sale in the USA. It has served the food industry very well by driving efficiencies estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars (USD). In fact, the bar code is one of the most trusted tools used across industries today, with an estimated 5 billion bar code scans every day.

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