Woolworths will put 2D barcodes on fresh meat and poultry products sold in supermarkets nationally from August to aid in product recalls and prevent expired products from being sold.
2D barcodes “store data in two dimensions, rather than in just a series of black and white bars”. The most well-known example of a 2D barcode is the QR code.
Woolworths said in a statement that it is working with meat packer Hilton Foods and poultry giant Ingham’s on the trial.
The 2D barcodes embed information about the product’s batch, supplier and use-by date, among other data.
Woolworths expects the barcodes - which it is implementing alongside standards-setter GS1 - to aid in product recalls.
“Currently, the product recall process requires all recalled products to be removed from supermarket shelves and disposed of,” the supermarket operator said.
“The information supplied by 2D barcodes will allow retailers to pinpoint the specific batch affected and trace it back through the production line, making it easier to identify the source of contamination and avoid sending unaffected products to landfill.”
It will also prevent affected batches - as well as out-of-date product - from being sold to a customer.
“The ability to add expiry and best before dates to a product’s barcode will help eliminate any risk of retailers selling out of date products to customers by removing the need for team members to manually label products,” Woolworths said.
“When scanned at the point of sale, customers will be alerted that the product is past its expiry date and the system won’t allow the purchase.”
Woolworths said that the barcodes were also found on other product lines.
“ A number of other suppliers across health and beauty, freezer and long-life categories have introduced 2D barcodes in anticipation of future barcode adoption,” it said.
“Woolworths will work with industry bodies and suppliers to develop a phased roll out plan to help ensure more suppliers can adopt the new printing technologies.”
General manager of business enablement Richard Plunkett said in a statement that Woolworths is the “first Australian supermarket to invest in this technology”.