Today, GS1 US, is celebrating 40 years of the barcode and adoption of global standards, which has had tremendous impact on the food and grocery industries. Forty years ago, industry leaders came together to select a single standard for product identification — the barcode. What started as a way to speed grocery store checkout, today plays a central role in product safety, traceability, aiding in faster product recalls and reducing costs. Now, that famous beep results in more than five billion GS1 barcodes being scanned every day.

In the 40 years since their adoption, GS1 Standards have grown into a global system, used by more than two million companies doing business in 150 countries across 25 industries, including apparel and general merchandise, fresh foods, consumer packaged goods, grocery, foodservice, healthcare, and defense. Introduced to speed the supermarket checkout process, the grocery retail industry was the first champion of standards in 1973. Today, supply chains representing nearly every sector in the world rely on GS1 Standards for identifying, capturing, and sharing information about goods, services, locations, and more in real-time. Barcodes and Electronic Product Code (EPC) enabled radio frequency identification (RFID) have evolved to capture a broad range of information to drive supply chain visibility.


"Trading partners use our standards to share many complex pieces of data globally in order to transact business, and they need to be able to automate these business processes to reduce cost, human error, or improve safety and interoperability of systems," says Bob Carpenter, president and CEO of GS1 US. "For example, manufacturers and distributors must communicate product information and company location, at minimum. A common language and globally accepted standards are essential for trading partners to be able to understand each other, conduct business one way around the world, and collaborate efficiently."