Traceability in general, and that of fresh fruit and vegetables in particular, implies the ability to check and identify the merchandise and the operators involved at any stage of the supply chain. The adoption of an international standard meets this requirement, enabling consumers to be reassured and facilitating export.
For this to be possible, producers have to identify products at the source.
The time-critical nature of the production and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables constitutes a real challenge to the marketing of products. Suppliers have to offer customers an optimal service and try to gain brand recognition, in the context of the globalization of trade with the segmentation of fruit and vegetable operators, and a demand for greater control of the supply chain in terms of quantity and quality.
More information contained in this new barcode
The use of unique GS1 codes identifying commercial references is a first step and an advantage in commercial relations with customers. Traceability information (batch number, expiry date, origin) is associated with the code in the company's internal databases, thereby facilitating the relaying of this information to the distributor and the final customer.
With a view to improving the availability and management of information in shops, some distributors, such as Colruyt (a Belgian distributor with shops in France), are using a new barcode that is suited to the handling of fruit and vegetables: the GS1 Databar. It offers the possibility of encoding and reading at the check-out not only the GS1 code of the item sold but also its expiry date or best before date, the production batch number, and the product's price and weight.
This facilitates the setting up of clearance operations for products with a sell by date of less than four or five days, thereby reducing the numbers of unsold items. Batch numbers enable recalls in shops to be carried out more efficiently using portable readers. The benefits of the use of the GS1 Databar in shops are not purely economic, they are also environmental and societal. Approximately 8 million tons of food are wasted in France every year.