By 2027, traditional barcodes in supermarkets will be replaced by standard GS1 QR Codes, marking a revolution in shopping. This transition is being promoted by leading food companies as part of the "Sunrise 2027" initiative, promising clear benefits for both consumers and businesses.

Unlike barcodes, GS1 QR Codes can contain a vast array of product information. Scannable via smartphones, they provide details on usage instructions, safety, nutritional information, certifications, product origin, components, carbon footprint, and recycling guidelines.

Simultaneously, food companies gain new opportunities for innovations in communication and marketing, giving consumers access to information that can influence their purchasing decisions.

Impact on Consumers

QR Code GS1 Food RetailA survey conducted by GS1 US in 2024 revealed that 77% of consumers consider it important to have access to detailed product information at the time of purchase. Additionally, 79% of participants indicated that they are more likely to purchase products equipped with QR Codes scannable via smartphones, which provide the desired information. These results underscore a clear consumer preference for greater transparency and accessibility of product information.

In the following paragraphs, we will analyze the impact on consumers, along with the new potential and advantages for food companies.

Introduction of QR Codes

After half a century of dominance, the traditional barcode is set to be replaced by a more advanced technology: QR Codes. These two-dimensional codes, standardized by GS1, have the capacity to hold significantly more information than traditional barcodes. QR Codes can be easily scanned with a smartphone, unlocking a plethora of product details from usage instructions and nutritional information to certifications and sustainability guidelines.

Objectives of the Sunrise 2027 initiative

The "Sunrise 2027" initiative marks a decisive step towards the global adoption of GS1 standard QR Codes by 2027. Promoted by 22 leading companies in the food sector, including Barilla, Nestlé, Carrefour, Lidl, Mondelēz, and Alibaba, this initiative aims to revolutionize how consumers interact with products in supermarkets.

The main objectives of the initiative include:

  1. Improving transparency: provide consumers with immediate and detailed access to product information, promoting more informed purchasing decisions.
  2. Increasing food safety: use QR Codes to provide precise information on allergies, expiration dates, and regulations, thus reducing food waste and enhancing consumer safety.
  3. Promoting sustainability: enable consumers to understand the environmental impact of products, from origin to packaging recyclability.
  4. Enhancing supply chain efficiency: improve traceability and inventory management throughout the supply chain, facilitating regulatory compliance and relations with national and international authorities.
  5. Innovating the consumer experience: transform the retail shopping experience, making it more interactive and informed through the use of QR Codes.

With "Sunrise 2027", the future of retail promises to be more transparent, safe, and sustainable, paving the way for a new shopping experience that better meets the needs of modern consumers.

Benefits of GS1 QR Codes for consumers and companies

QR Code GS1: benefits for consumers and food companies

GS1 QR Codes not only enhance information access for consumers but also provide numerous operational and strategic advantages for companies.

Below, we explore these benefits in detail, categorized into four main themes: benefits for companies, product information, shopping experience, and food safety.

Benefits for companies

The adoption of QR Codes offers various potential benefits that can translate into tangible advantages for companies in the food sector, including producers, distributors, and retailers:

  • Marketing and promotions: with the creation of targeted and personalized campaigns based on data collected from consumer scans. Besides providing information that can positively influence consumer perception and purchasing decisions, there is also the opportunity to collect and use scan data to enhance marketing strategies. These data can provide detailed insights into consumer behaviors and preferences, allowing companies to tailor their offers and promotions more precisely and effectively. Furthermore, they can be used to segment the audience based on different parameters, such as purchase frequency or product preferences, optimizing engagement and increasing the return on investment for advertising campaigns. The ability to track the effectiveness of campaigns in real-time also allows for quick adjustments and continuous improvement of marketing strategies.

  • Supply chain efficiency: QR Codes enhance product traceability throughout the supply chain, enabling more efficient warehouse management and easy integration of software that facilitates automation. The information collected helps companies better monitor inventory, optimizing restocking and reducing warehouse costs. Additionally, increased automation reduces the need for manual interventions, lowering overall operational costs.

  • Consumer feedback and direct communication channel: helps companies improve their products and services.

In summary, GS1 QR Codes will significantly impact consumer habits by enabling more informed purchases while also offering numerous opportunities for companies, including new marketing and branding methods.

Detailed product information

GS1 standard QR Codes represent a revolution in the amount and quality of information available to consumers. Unlike traditional barcodes, which contain only a numerical string for product identification, QR Codes can store a wide range of complex data. By scanning a QR Code with their smartphone, consumers can access:

  • Usage and recycling instructions, including detailed information on how to use and dispose of the product packaging.
  • Nutritional information: data on calories, ingredients, nutritional values, and allergens.
  • Quality and sustainability certifications attesting to adherence to quality standards and sustainable practices.
  • Origin, traceability, and supply chain details, including the origins of ingredients and the journey from producer to point of sale.

Shopping experience

The introduction of GS1 QR Codes can significantly enhance the shopping experience, making it more interactive and informative. Additionally, the new codes can facilitate communication between consumers and brands. In particular:

  • Obtaining additional information, overcoming the limitations of packaging space by accessing additional online content such as video tutorials, usage tips, and recipes.
  • Making more informed choices, gaining a better understanding of organoleptic, qualitative, and nutritional characteristics, facilitating purchase decisions based on informative approaches.
  • Accessing promotions, discounts, and coupons linked to the scanned products.
  • Interacting with the brand, connecting directly to companies' communication channels (websites, social media), providing feedback, and participating in loyalty initiatives.

Food safety

GS1 QR Codes play an important role in food safety and waste reduction. The new possibilities include:

  • Ensuring regulatory compliance, ensuring that all required information by regulations is easily accessible, considering the differences between various countries.
  • Reducing food waste, promoting more efficient food management through better visibility of storage conditions and expiration dates.
  • Health advice, providing detailed guidance on allergies, intolerances, and other relevant health warnings.

Prospects for 2027 and beyond

Looking to the future, the implementation of GS1 QR Codes by 2027 represents just the beginning of a new era for retail. Companies that adopt this technology will not only improve operational efficiency and regulatory compliance but will also be able to offer a highly personalized and interactive shopping experience.

In the long term, QR Codes are expected to become a global standard, further integrating with other emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). This development will enable greater automation and analytical capabilities, enhancing consumer engagement, logistics, production activities, and warehouse management.

In conclusion, the adoption of GS1 QR Codes marks an important step towards a more transparent, safe, and sustainable future for the food sector. With consumer preference for greater information accessibility, confirmed by various surveys and market analyses, new horizons open up for businesses in the sector, offering opportunities for innovation in products, services, and communication and marketing strategies.

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