Barcodes for Food Labels

Posted on April 21, 2015 by

If you're going to be selling your food product retail, you'll almost certainly need a barcode. We don't offer barcodes through ReciPal, but it's pretty straightforward to get one. In this article we'll explain your options, prices, and how it all works.

You have two options for barcodes:

  • Register your own company and buy a barcode prefix through GS1.
  • Buy a barcode from a reseller that has a large collection of GS1 prefixes.

Both are acceptable, although some of the bigger retailers will want you to have your own prefix that uniquely identifies your company. To get started and save a little on expenses upfront it may be worthwhile to go the cheaper route and buy from someone else rather than go directly to GS1.

How Many Barcodes?

You'll need a unique barcode for each of your products. That means each flavor, size and variation has it's own barcode. If you have 2 flavors, each of which comes in 3 sizes, that means you'll need 6 unique barcodes (2 flavors x 3 sizes). So, first figure out how many you need. It might also be worthwhile to plan ahead a bit and buy in bulk so you have contiguous barcodes and don't have to do extra work down the road when you add product lines or sizes.

Through the GS1

For the GS1 approach, they lay out how to do it pretty clearly in their Getting Started with Barcodes Guide.

Cheaper Alternatives

For the alternative approach, I would search for something like "Barcodes for Food Products" and you'll get a few ads that market their wares. The reason they are cheaper is that some companies bought barcodes and prefixes in bulk that are still valid today, and they are able to resell them for less than the new prices set by the GS1. The only drawback is that you don't get your own prefix, but that's usually fine. Some retailers, like Wal-Mart, won't accept reseller barcodes, but most do.

Barcode Prices

Pricing through the GS1 varies based on the number of barcodes you need. You can see the full pricing table below.

Barcode price GS1

Full pricing table for GS1 barcodes

Pricing through a barcode reseller can be quite a bit less. One site (Speedy Barcodes) lists 10 barcodes at $15 and 100 barcodes at $45. That's quite a bit cheaper. We don't endorse any particular site, so do your research and talk to them before buying anything. I haven't heard of any issues with resellers, but you certainly due some diligence to make sure the reseller is legitimate.

Other Benefits of Barcodes

Barcodes can be useful in situations beyond simply selling your product retail. It may make it easier to track inventory and identify your products through the supply chain and shipping, since it can be uniquely identified with a barcode scanner. You can label pallets and cases with their own barcodes to more easily count inventory with less chance for error. Then when you ship out that case, you'll automatically know.

We won't go into all the possibilities, but that's how serious manufacturers keep track of everything.

Integrating with ReciPal

Combining a barcode with your ReciPal nutrition labels is pretty easy. You can download your ReciPal labels in either PDF or JPG formats and use any image editing software to add a barcode in.

Of course, if you have any questions, just let us know.

About Lev Berlin

Lev Berlin ReciPal SlantShack Author Bio

Lev Berlin is the founder & CEO of ReciPal. Having previously been a founder of SlantShack Jerky, he needed nutrition labels and simple tools to start and run the business. He's read the FDA food labeling code countless times in the process of creating ReciPal and helping small food businesses with their labels. He's reviewed and created thousands of food labels, and been a mentor and guest speaker at food incubators, food business courses, and regulatory conferences, like Brooklyn Foodworks and ICE.

After graduating from Princeton with an engineering degree, Lev was a management consultant, then founder or early employee at half a dozen startups. He loves nothing more than helping other small businesses get off the ground and achieve their goals.

Learn something? Check out similar posts:

Getting Started With Food Labels Getting Into Retail Food Packaging
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