The barcode on products will be replaced by a QR code from 2027 – partly because it has more benefits for consumers, according to GS1 – the company that is internationally responsible for managing barcodes.
From 2027, GS1 wants to introduce a new code on products that will look more like a QR code and will also be linked to the internet. Not only cash registers but also consumers will be able to scan the code with their smartphones.
"By scanning the code, they receive information about the origin of the product, the composition and the ecological footprint, among other things," Jan Somers, CEO of GS1 Belgilux, explained on Flemish radio on Monday.
However, the new QR code will require a major effort from retailers as cash registers will have to be adjusted to be able to scan the new code. Manufacturers, too, will have to adapt their packaging.
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"The new code offers many possibilities, which is why we want to help as many companies as possible to take this step," said Somers. As this is a major transition, the new code will not be introduced until 2027.
He recognised that while the current barcode is well-established, it also has its limitations. "Every country and sometimes even every retailer has its own barcode for a certain product. This means that products can sometimes be more difficult to trace in case of problems."
Additionally, the traditional barcode system is also limited; only a limited number of combinations of stripes and numbers are possible. With the new QR codes, the possibilities would be unlimited, the company stressed.