How to create a barcode for your cases
Moving from barcoding your products to barcoding your cases or outer packaging can be confusing. You may have been requested by a new trading partner to start barcoding your cases in order for them to track and trace them throughout their supply chain. Cases are also referred to as ‘traded units’, ‘outer cases’ or ‘trade item groupings’ but these are all the same thing.
Some producers also use an ITF-14 barcode on the packaging alongside the EAN or UPC, depending on their packaging type (see below section) or their trading partner requirements. If using the ITF-14 format, you add a leading zero to your GTIN-13 number to allow the 13 digits to fit in the ITF-14. This remains a GTIN-13, even though there is an additional digit. The ITF-14 can’t be scanned at the point of sale.
Cases not sold in-store (traded level)
If cases are not scanned at the point of sale, you don’t have the restriction of using a maximum of 13 digits within the barcode. Other barcode formats can be used; ITF-14 or GS1-128, that can carry extra variable information such as batch numbers and expiry dates.
When using these barcodes, we recommend that you create a GTIN-14 from your product level GTIN-13 in My Numberbank or use a completely new GTIN-13 with a leading zero to bring the format up to 14 digits in length. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to have a different unique number from the product level one.
These barcodes are recommended when it is necessary to be able to scan:
- Use by and best before dates
- Measurements for variable measure products on traded units
- Batch and serial numbers
If your product has a shelf life of up to 42 days, you must use the GS1-128 format and ensure you include the shelf life dates within it.
Variable measure product
If your cases contain catch weight items (items that do not have a predefined weight), then the net weight of the contents must be shown in a GS1-128 bar code.
Other variable measures such as length, area and volume can be shown using different application identifiers, but weight is the most common measure used in the UK.
- Use the AI 3102 to give the net weight in kilograms to two decimal places. Other AIs can be used to give weight to a different number of decimal places
- The GTIN must be a 14 digit number beginning with 9 (9 is reserved for variable measure items) – best to use My Numberbank to create a GTIN-14 starting with a 9 from your product level GTIN-13