The Process of Creating a Barcode for Food Inventory and Distribution

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Mar 17, 2023 8:00:00 AM


Barcodes are important in shipping, tracking, inventorying, managing, and purchasing food products—especially when you want to distribute and sell products in a retail setting. But coming up with a barcode for a new food product has a few requirements. The process is fairly simple, but here’s what you need to know before you get started.

What is a Barcode?

A barcode is a system of vertical lines and numbers depicted on a product’s label. When scanned with a barcode scanner, the system deciphers the code to bring up certain details about the product, such as its name and price. Barcodes can either be generated by the business itself or in partnership with an organization called GS1, which licenses barcodes to companies worldwide. 

Benefits of Using a Barcode Inventory System

While no regulations require that you have a barcode on your products, most distribution centers and retailers will want you to have this tracking system in place. Here are several benefits of using a barcode inventory system for your food products.

1. Simple to Use

There’s a common misconception that paper lists and spreadsheets are the simplest options for tracking items. But the opposite is the case. When your products have barcodes attached, you need only scan the code, and the item can be recorded in your inventory control system instantly. With just a simple scan, you can see how much inventory you have on hand. 

2. Eliminates Errors

Manually entering inventory information can be a challenging task. For every 1,000 keystrokes, a worker makes about ten mistakes on average. These mistakes can lead to shipping errors, stockouts, or spending too much on storing excess inventory. A barcode system, on the other hand, only makes a mistake of about one in every 10,000 scans. 

3. Cost Effective

220419-should-we-be-done-with-barcodes-what-to-know-about-rfids-2Barcodes allow for fast data recognition for your food manufacturing, distribution, or retail business. Each barcode costs just a few cents. Because it costs money to carry inventory, it’s important to have optimal levels at all times. Barcodes allow you to know the precise amount of inventory in stock, which can reduce your overall costs. 

4. Saves Time

Your staff is surely spending a significant amount of their time on inventory recording. They might have to physically locate items and then record each one manually in your system. When you use a barcode system, it will save a lot of time and effort. 

5. Provides Security

Food companies need to remain aware of the security of their products for the safety of customers and the reputation of their brand name. Barcodes are completely traceable and auditable. This gives your business and its company a greater sense of security and can even prevent the theft of products. 

What Type of Barcode Should I Use?

Not every barcode is exactly alike. Different barcodes use different symbology, which determines the type and amount of information the code can contain. If you are labeling food products, you’ll most likely use a Universal Product Code (UPC). These codes were originally created by grocery stores to provide inventory tracking and quick receipt printing. UPCs are 12-digit numbers that contain complete information about your food products. 

Creating Barcodes for Food Inventory and Distribution

There is a lot involved in creating barcodes, so it’s easy to make a mistake. You need to establish the type, size, and placement of your barcode to get the best results. If you are creating barcodes for food inventory and distribution, here are some steps you can take:

1. Obtain a GS1 Company Prefix

Your first and most critical step is to obtain a GS1 Company Prefix. This is a unique 6- to 9-digit ID number that is only licensed to your business. This identifies your company in the global supply chain and will become a part of every UPC barcode you generate. 

To help determine your prefix, you should estimate how many barcodes you will need. Each product will require a unique identifier. So a 10-oz can of peas will have a different identifier than a 16-oz can of peas. Once you obtain your prefix, the GS1 organization can provide guidance about how many numbers you can assign. Note: most businesses purchase software to manage this aspect of creating bar codes. 

2. Format Your Barcode

The quality and format of your barcode are vital to the success of your tracking program. If you place barcodes on your products, but they fail to scan easily, a worker will have to manually enter the product codes. 

You need a properly-sized, high-resolution image. Black and white barcodes are the best option. Other acceptable choices are dark blue and green. If you resize the barcode, it must be proportional. Also, there should be some clear space surrounding the code to prevent incorrect scanning. 

3. Barcode Labels and Printing

230321-the-process-of-creating-a-barcode-for-food-inventory-and-distribution-1To complete your barcode system, you’ll want to consider barcode software and a barcode printer. You can purchase barcode labels that are durable and can withstand cold storage, depending on the type of products you plan to tag. A high-quality mobile printing solution can allow you to print barcode labels anywhere in your factory or warehouse. One option is to use mobile workstations to bring the workers and tasks wherever they are needed the most. 

4. Placement on Packaging

When adding the barcode to your food product packaging, it needs to be placed in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with the required labeling elements. Generally, barcodes are found on the back or low sides of packages. Sometimes they are also placed on the bottom. 

5. Barcode Scanning

mc3390r-warehouse-woman-scanning-boxVarious types of barcode scanners will work for inventory management and tracking. Many businesses are now using wireless scanners, which connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular networks. Wired scanners may be less costly, but they must be used near an outlet, so they aren’t as effective in a warehouse. 

Barcodes can be an excellent addition to your business. If you produce and distribute products, some type of tracking mechanism is a must-have. While these solutions appear intimidating on the surface, having the right tools in place makes implementing a barcode system a smooth process that will produce fantastic results. 

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Topics: Inventory Managment, Food industry, Barcode

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