Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about barcodes. Food manufacturers often wonder whether or not they need one for their product and how to obtain one if they do. Luckily, in addition to being a nutrition labeling expert, I know a thing or two about barcodes for food products. So today I thought I would talk a bit about barcodes in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion for food manufacturers, co-packers, and distributors.
Specifically, I want to give you the rundown on barcode basics and talk about how to get barcodes for your food products so you have all the information you need to get one step closer to having your product ready to go to market.
Barcode Basics for Food Manufacturers
You may be interested to know that the government doesn’t require you to have a universal product code (UPC-A) barcode on your food product. When I first learned that, I was really surprised because most food products do indeed have barcodes.
Distributors and retail establishments, however, require that all products have barcodes. After all, distributors use barcodes in their warehouse systems, and retail establishments such as grocery stores need them in order to keep track of sales, inventory, and reordering. It’s therefore important that you have a barcode if you plan on getting your product on retail shelves and growing your business.
The number of barcodes you need corresponds to the number of unique products you have. Keep in mind that having one product with several variations (i.e. potato chips in four different flavors) means you need separate barcodes for each flavor. Also, you will need distinct barcodes for one product if it comes in different package sizes. For example, you will need two barcodes for chips that come in either single serving or family size bags.
How to Get Barcodes for Your Food Products Quickly and Affordably
For busy food manufacturers and distributors, the easiest way to obtain barcodes for your product is to use an online company that professionally creates barcodes. They will take care of all the work for you and you’ll have your barcodes before you know it. In fact, some online barcode companies, like Simply Barcodes, typically have a turnaround time of only an hour. This means you’ll have more time to spend on other parts of your business, like creating your nutrition label.
The process for obtaining your barcode(s) is quite simple. Once you place an order online, you are assigned official UPC numbers that are issued by the GS1 (the governing body of barcodes). With these numbers, the company creates your barcode and sends it to you via email. Then, all you have to do is download it, add it to your package design, or forward it to your graphic artist to take care of for you.
Streamlining Your Label Creation Process
There are a lot of steps that go into creating the label for your food product, and purchasing the barcode is just one of them. Creating your nutrition facts panel is another important part of getting your food product ready to sell. Like barcodes, nutrition facts panels are generally required if you want to sell your product in retail locations.
Creating your nutrition facts panel doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process either. Using an online nutrition analysis software to generate the nutrition facts panel, ingredient list, and allergen warning for your product is almost as quick and easy as purchasing a barcode. WIth software like LabelCalc, you can complete your nutrition label in a few minutes. All you have to do is:
- Create an account.
- Enter your recipe and serving size using the USDA-compiled database of ingredients and watch as your nutrition facts panel is instantly generated.
- Edit your ingredient list and allergen statement.
- Choose a label format that suits your package.
- Download and print your label, then include it in your package design.
Many food manufacturers are surprised when I tell them it is possible to have their barcode and labels made in just a day. They’re also always impressed at how easy the process is, considering that both barcodes and nutrition facts panels can be a source of much confusion for food manufacturers.
The best part about these online platforms for barcodes and labels is that you will have more time and energy to spend on the parts of your business that matter the most—like product development, recipe testing, or practicing your pitch for retail. After all, the less time you spend fiddling around with labels and barcodes, the sooner you get your product out there and the more quickly your business can grow.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software that allows food manufacturers to create FDA-compliant nutrition facts panels. To learn more about our partnership with Simply Barcodes or to start creating your nutrition facts panel, contact us today.