How DataBar Expanded and GS1 Digital Link can Reduce Food Waste
The prevalence of hunger among the world’s poor is alarming, especially when juxtaposed with the fact that approximately 40% of food in the United States is wasted. Unfortunately, this is not a problem confined to the US alone. Wastage of food is a ubiquitous issue in all parts of the world, where significant amounts of food are discarded before they can be donated or purchased by the needy. To reduce the amount of food waste at all points in the supply chain, including growth, distribution, retail, and consumers’ homes, a variety of strategies will need to be employed.
The problem of food waste often stems from poor infrastructure and logistical organization. For instance, waste accumulates when farms, distributors, and retail stores fail to move older food products out of inventory before new ones arrive. As a result, on-the-shelf products may go unsold or expire just days after being purchased. Efficiently-run supermarkets can minimize waste by having a better grip on their inventory, thus extending the freshness of products for consumers. However, how can companies ensure that products closer to expiration are sold before others?
From a technological perspective, the use of barcode technology can be an effective solution to minimize food spoilage in stores. While UPC barcodes are used widely for registering products for large-scale sales, they are not helpful in preventing food spoilage. These codes can only identify a product’s specific details, such as size and color, but not its expiration date. GS1 Databar Expanded is an advanced barcode symbology that encodes more data than standard UPC. This symbology can encode Application Identifiers for expiration dates, picked dates, and other information, which gives grocery stockers better control over which products are offered and when. Additionally, Databar barcodes are useful for labeling loose produce and other items that are hard to label. However, if it is possible it is suggested by GS1 to use 2D barcode symbols such as Data Matrix or QR Code in the GS1 Digital Link format, as it combines GS1 AIs with your website, making it superior to Data Expanded alone.
Everyone bears some responsibility in the fight against food waste, from farmers and distributors to supermarkets and consumers. Technology can be a potent weapon against food spoilage in a world where many people suffer from hunger. Labeling products with Databar barcodes may be a promising method to reduce food waste, save profits, and protect businesses’ bottom line.