• Image: Woolworths
    Image: Woolworths

Supermarket giant Woolworths will trial two-dimensional barcodes on fresh meat and poultry products from August.

2D barcodes, such as QR codes, store information in two dimensions instead of being just a series of black and white bars. Woolworths is working with poultry producer Ingham’s and meat packer Hilton Foods on the trial, which will see information on batch, supplier and use-by date included in the new codes alongside other data.

This will aid in any product recalls, the supermarket said.

“Currently, the product recall process requires all recalled products to be removed from supermarket shelves and disposed of,” said Woolworths.

“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.”

The company added that the barcodes would also remove the need for manual use-by date labelling and prevent out-of-date product from being sold to customers.

“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,” it said.

According to Mark Dingley, CEO of Matthews Australasia, this is a major announcement on the next generation of fresh produce barcoding.

“This is not just about a new point of sale (POS) barcode for short shelf life products. This has significant potential to deliver many local supply chain efficiencies as well as support the Federal Government initiatives in the National Food Waste Strategy, which is working towards halving Australia's food waste by 2030,” he said.

The supermarket will work with suppliers to roll out 2D barcodes across additional product lines.

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