Well Hello There, New Bar Codes

Snazzy new bar codes are starting to adorn our fruit and vegetables to stop blurry-eyed cashiers from ringing up organic produce as the cheaper-priced regular stuff. They’re called GS1 DataBars, and they’re already appearing in select supermarkets to help consumers move faster through checkout lines.

“It’s quicker and far more accurate,” Mr. Biddiscombe said. But the system is valuable not only for speeding checkout times and for keeping track of different varieties of bulk vegetables and fruits sold. It also prevents another checkout problem: cashiers mistaking organic vegetables for less expensive, conventionally grown ones, and ringing them up for the lower price.

“The price difference between organic and field tomatoes may be 40 cents a pound or more,” he said. “When they aren’t rung up as organic, that bites into our profit margins.”

Kelly Kirschner, senior marketing manager at Sinclair International, a company in Fresno, Calif., that makes labeling for produce, said DataBars were gradually becoming popular because of limitations of the standard bar code. The standard code, she said, “takes up too much space to be used on loose produce, plus it is for fixed-weight items” – for example, 12-ounce boxes of cereal. The DataBar, by contrast, allows stores to scan for variable weight information.

Has anyone seen these yet?

The Bar Code Is Taking a Leap Forward [The New York Times]