Good day, readers. This post should excite any newbie food manufacturer, even if as sends my hot-sauce consumer readers immediately into a deep slumber.
Bar codes. I bet you never gave them much of a thought. But if you want to sell a product in a store, you’ll need to know how to create and use them. I had no idea. I’ll walk you through the process I stumbled through so you can learn from my research, and also from my hideous mistakes.
Of course you require a barcode on your product if you want a store to carry it. They need to be able to scan the thing in order to sell it and stocktake. The store will scan the bar code, then attach a product description to that code within their system. The bar code itself does not contain information about your product. So, how do you go about producing these things?
In Australia, there are basically two solutions. Number one is the Global Standards Body or GS1 bar code, and is required if your products are going to be sold by Coles, Woolworths, or Supercheap Auto (and probably a couple of others). For a small business, requiring five or less bar codes, you will pay (before GST):
- A one-off joining fee of $120
- An annual fee of $120 for the first bar code
- $60 annually for each subsequent bar code
You can purchase these barcodes at http://www.gs1express.com.au
If you wish to avoid paying those annual fees, and/or don’t think your product will be sold in the aforementioned stores, then the cheaper option is to go to http://www.australianbarcodes.com.au where they will create a bar code for you for $50 each, or cheaper, depending on how many you buy. Five bar codes are $40, for instance.
A couple of things to remember… You need a unique bar code for each product you are making. For instance, if you make jam, and have a strawberry, a fig and a raspberry jam, you need a bar code for each of the three items.
Printing the bar codes is, I found, a bit of a black art. The codes will be supplied to you in .tiff and .eps files, which should then be inserted into your product label art. Importantly, the image print size needs to be strictly adhered to, with 100% and 80% of the original image size being the only acceptable sizes for printing. If your graphics application alters the dimensions of the image at all, or if the printing process results in a lower than acceptable resolution print, then the bar code may be unreadable. If printing labels from home, there is a higher chance of failure than on labels professionally printed. If you are at all unsure, it may well be a good idea to have the bar codes printed onto stickers, which can then be applied to your labels once they are on the packaging.
At the very least, you ought to have your printer produce a proof of the finished product label, which you can take to a store to see if the bar code scans successfully.
I sure wish someone had shared this advice with me before I printed my labels! I am still a relative newcomer to the food manufacturing business. What I have shared here is pretty much all I know about bar codes, which is to say, not a lot. Hopefully it’s enough to get you started, and to help avoid some of the potential pitfalls encountered by newbie product label designers.