What is in this article?:
- Buy smarter: Foodservice GS1 Standards make it possible
- The importance of GS1 Standards
It sounds like something only an IT guy can love, but the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative can be a restaurant operator’s friend.
Smartphones, tablets and social media have significantly shaped the way we interact, not only with each other, but also with the businesses we patronize. According to the National Restaurant Association, 36 percent of consumers prefer to order online and 35 percent scour the web to look up nutritional information. On the other hand, nine out of 10 restaurants will be using social media as a major marketing tool in the coming year, while 48 percent of restaurateurs plan to release mobile apps for smartphones.
It goes without saying that technology has dramatically affected the restaurant industry. As a result, operators—as well as foodservice manufacturers and distributors—are increasingly pressed to deliver the information consumers want and when they want it, often at a moment’s notice.
What many consumers and even operators don’t realize—or are at least beginning to realize—is that gathering and sharing nutritional and other information about foodservice products does not come easy. On the consumer side, Google and mobile apps have made it easier than ever for diners to find places to eat and to gather basic nutritional information. On the foodservice side, the technology falls flat when product information is not available or, worse, is inaccurate. It’s challenging enough to gather and determine nutritional information, but if the information is incorrect to begin with, what’s the point?
That’s where the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative comes in. Launched in 2009 by 55 leading foodservice companies and associations, the National Restaurant Association and others, and by third-party global standards organization GS1 US, the Initiative is an industry-wide collaborative to bring the technology of barcoding, scanning, traceability and product data sharing to the foodservice industry.
The goal of the Initiative is to have 75 percent (measured by revenue) of food manufacturers, distributors, operators and other supply chain partners voluntarily adopt GS1 Standards for product identification, location identification and data sharing by 2015. If we achieve this goal (we’re closer to this each day), operators and distributors will not only be able to track products from the plant to the restaurant’s back door and back again to establish a better platform for traceability and food safety; they will also be able to access enhanced product information, including nutritionals, allergen and other claims, professional images, and even cooking instructions.
GS1 US is a not-for-profit organization rooted in the idea of identifying, capturing and sharing information through a common platform. “You probably have never heard of GS1, but you interact with GS1 Standards almost every day,” says Dennis Harrison, senior v.p. of GS1 US.
With humble beginnings in the late 1960s, the early iteration of GS1 US (formerly the Uniform Code Council) resulted in the scanning of the first barcode on a pack of Wrigley’s gum. Since then, GS1 has evolved into a massive global organization that connects a variety of different industries, including retail, grocery and healthcare. When you check out at a grocery store and the cashier scans your items, he or she is using GS1 Standards. Look at the barcode on your shirt label—that’s GS1. Today there are over five billion barcode scans globally every day, making GS1 Standards the most widely used in the world.