Supermarket giant Woolworths will trial data embedded (or 2D) barcodes in stores from August 2019 to help reduce food waste and sales of expired products.
The supermarket is collaborating with Hilton Foods and Ingham’s by putting 2D barcodes on fresh meat and poultry products sold at supermarkets nationally.
“We’re proud to be the first Australian supermarket to invest in this technology, and hope it can help us further reduce food waste. 2D barcodes have immense potential and we’re excited to see how they will improve food safety, traceability and stock management,” Woolworths general manager of business enablement, Richard Plunkett said.
Aussie retailers use 1D barcodes to identify the product while 2D barcodes have product’s batch, supplier, used by date and serial numbers at the point of sale. The barcodes store data in two dimensions, compared to just a series of black and white bars, the new bar codes look like “checkerboards or a series of traditional barcodes stacked atop one another”.
Product recall process usually requires all items to be removed from supermarket shelves and disposed of. The 2D barcodes will allow retailers to pinpoint which specific batches are affected and trace it back through the production line. This makes it easier for them to identify the source of contamination and avoid throwing out unaffected products to the landfills.
The latest barcode will allow businesses to add expiry and best before dates so that it can help eliminate any risk of retailers selling expired products to customers. Workers don’t have to manually label products anymore with 2D barcodes. When scanned at the point of sale, customers will be automatically alerted that the product is past its expiry date and the system will block the purchase.
Data embedded barcodes can also trace farm-to-fork footprints of products in the future.
“Ingham’s is proud to be a pioneer in the 2D barcode initiative with Woolworths. Food safety and traceability are paramount to our business. Delivering quality products that incorporate cutting edge technology to enhance these elements and provide a range of benefits to consumers is a step we gladly embrace,” Ingham’s head of sales – Woolworths Ed Alexander said.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Woolworths in the initial roll out of this technology and look forward to seeing the real-time and long-term benefits it will bring.”
GS1 is assisting Woolworths with its trial of new barcode system in its supermarkets.
“Four decades on from inception, barcode scanning technology in Australia continues to evolve. The fresh food sector relies on accurate and complete data to track a product’s journey all the way from the farm to the supermarket shelves. It’s great to see Woolworths leading the way in bringing 2D barcodes to shoppers at point-of-sale,” CEO and executive director of GS1 Australia, Maria Palazzolo said.
The supermarket giant said successful trials in Germany, the UK and Thailand have shown material benefits for both customers and suppliers. From health and beauty, freezer to long-life category suppliers, they introduced 2D barcodes in anticipation of future barcode adoption.
Woolworths said it will work with industry bodies and suppliers to further develop a phased roll out plan to help ensure more suppliers can adopt the new printing technologies in Australia.