GS1 Standards in Use in Retail Grocery

Enabling supply chain visibility for streamlined operations


Retailers, wholesalers, distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers rely on GS1 Standards to run their businesses more efficiently, ensure product information accuracy, and minimize costs. GS1 Standards help drive those results not only within their businesses, but also throughout their supply chains.

GS1 Standards are like the DNA of items and products moving through their value chain. By uniquely identifying each, it’s possible to link items and products with relevant information.

Here’s an overview of how GS1 Standards play an important role in retail grocery:

For identification

GS1 Standards begin with GS1 Identification Numbers used to uniquely distinguish all products (trade items), logistic units, locations, assets, and relationships across the supply chain from manufacturer to consumer:

identify image

For capturing information

GS1 Capturing Info

GS1 Data Carriers help businesses in the grocery supply chain hold varying amounts of product data, including GTINs, Batch/Lot information, and expiration dates.

  • U.P.C. barcodes identify products carrying a GTIN® and are most commonly used at checkout
  • GS1 DataBar® barcodes come in seven varieties used for various purposes. The GS1 DataBar Stacked Omnidirectional, for example, carries the GTIN just like the UPC-A and can address barcode sizing issues and requirements for additional data, which makes it ideal for loose produce. The GS1 DataBar Expanded and Expanded Stacked can also carry serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates to support product authentication and traceability, product quality and effectiveness, and couponing
  • ITF-14 barcodes encode GTINs and are used to identify units such as cartons, cases, and pallets to help manage fast and accurate tracking of inventory.
  • GS1-128 barcodes encode GTINs and are commonly used to identify units such as cartons, cases, and pallets and help manage fast and accurate tracking of inventory. Specific information can also be encoded in GS1-128 barcodes to add security and sustainability to your supply chain, such as Best Before Date, Batch/Lot Number, Serial Number, and the GS1 System’s Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC).
  • GS1 DataMatrix, a two-dimensional (2D) barcode, holds large amounts of data in a relatively small space with the capacity to encode a variety of information, such as date or Batch/Lot Number
  • EPC®-enabled RFID tags help trace individual products and can carry rich product-related information, including country of origin, production date, materials uses, handling processes, and more

For sharing information

GS1 Sharing Info

With GS1 Standards as the common language of business, trading partners can seamlessly share information to support data synchronization, as well as the exchange of transactional and physical event data about products moving through the supply chain.

  • Master data: The Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®) enables immediate electronic sharing of standardized, up-to-date, accurate information—from GTINs and brand owner identification to product descriptions and classification.
  • Transactional data: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) enables computer-to-computer exchange of business documents among companies. With a standard format regardless of each company’s computer or software, EDI “bridges the gap” between companies and systems. By using standardized business messages, EDI empowers trading partners to communicate in a common language, and helps companies conduct electronic commerce more accurately and efficiently. Visit our Resource Library to view all product image and data attribute resources or logistics resources.
  • Physical event data: The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) is a GS1 Standard for capturing and sharing information about the movement and status of goods in the physical world. EPCIS enables the capture of event data about products, logistics units, returnable assets, and other objects moving through the value chain, as well as sharing of event data with internal systems and trading partners.
  • Enhanced consumer engagement, efficiencies, and safety: GS1 Digital Link helps barcodes and other data carriers become web links – connecting a product’s unique identity to online sources of real-time information that brands control. Brands can speak directly to consumers through a single, smarter barcode on their packaging and retailers can improve efficiency and safety with access to accurate product data and enhanced traceability.

That’s just the beginning

That’s just the beginning

For a deeper understanding of how GS1 Standards actively support your role in the supply chain, download a Standards in Action brochure to learn more.

Download the GS1 Standards in Action booklet for Grocery PDF (1.2 MB) >

Download the GS1 Standards in Action booklet for Fresh Foods PDF (1.9 MB) > 

In this publication, the letters “U.P.C.” are used solely as an abbreviation for the “Universal Product Code”, which is a product identification system. They do not refer to the UPC, which is a federally registered certification mark of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to certify compliance with a Uniform Plumbing Code as authorized by IAPMO.