Barcodes, mobiles and LIRNEasia research on traceability

Posted on June 7, 2009  /  1 Comments

Some time back LIRNEasia conducted an interesting piece of research on traceability, the concept of being able to trace a food item down to its source in a particular farm. That project involved the use of mobiles to give feedback to farmers, based on numbers assigned to crates of gherkins. We talked about what could be done with barcodes on crates and perhaps barcodes on the fruits themselves, but did not implement. But now it seems that a new barcode that can be read by mobiles is being deployed, with much potential for traceability as well.

The new symbols, called GS1 DataBars, can store more data than traditional bar codes, promising new ways for stores to monitor inventory and for customers to save money.

One use of the symbols will be in sophisticated coupon offers that combine deals on multiple products, said Jackie Broberg, who leads coupon control management at General Mills in Minneapolis. A single coupon, for example, could offer discounts on three separate items like eggs, bacon and biscuits, all in one transaction.

Another use of the new symbols is already helping to streamline operations for a common speed bump in the checkout process: loose produce. During the past three years, for example, the Loblaw Companies, the big Canadian supermarket chain, has gradually switched to scannable, miniaturized DataBar labels pasted onto some fruits and vegetables. Instead of entering a 4- or 5-digit number to look up a price, cashiers scan the DataBars on the produce, said Eric Biddiscombe, senior director of planning in Cambridge, Ontario.

The full story.

1 Comment

  1. I worked at Orange electric between 2002-2006. Orange electric implemented a barcode solution around 2003,with a 24 digit random number being assigned to each product. This helped on 2 fronts at the time; curb counterfeits and as a mechanism to implement a loyalty program with electricians. We even trialled a SMS solution for consumers to send in the number and receive a confirmation from Orange. That was subsequently stopped.