The GS1 Barcode celebrates 40 years

GS1 Australia
Thursday, 04 July, 2013

Some say life begins at 40, and that’s certainly the case for GS1. The not-for-profit organisation, which facilitates collaboration among trading partners with global standards across 150 countries, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Forty years ago, GS1 (Global Standards One) introduced the barcode to business - and revolutionised the way they do business. Today, the GS1 barcode (GS1 System of Standards) still remains the most widely used identification system and supply chain standard in the world: two million companies in over 150 countries use it to identify, capture and share information about products, cartons, pallets, documents, locations, assets and more.

In April 1973, industry leaders selected a single standard for product identification. This is now known around the world as the GS1 Barcode. In June 1974, a pack of Wrigley’s gum became the first product to be scanned with a GS1 barcode. Today, more than five billion products are scanned every day all around the world.

“GS1 has played a major role in shaping the landscape of the global market during the last 40 years because the organisation’s visionary leaders saw the huge potential of collaboration in the area of standards that the barcode made possible for the entire supply chain,” said Maria Palazzolo, CEO GS1 Australia.

“The last 40 years of GS1 Barcodes in the retail, food and grocery sectors has been the foundation of efficiency and accuracy in the supply chain from manufacturing and distribution through to the seamless delivery of product to consumers on supermarket shelves,” said Ian Dunn, Senior Business Manager, Woolworths and member of the GS1 Australia Board.

“The next 40 years will be a great opportunity for other sectors to get involved to realise the many benefits and potential of GS1 standards. Having one global standard that is accepted and adopted by every player will undoubtedly protect the global supply chain market.”

GS1 says it is already looking ahead to the next 40 years. As consumers become empowered by the digital trend in social and mobile technologies, they increasingly require real-time product updates and the ability to scan barcodes to obtain ‘beyond-the-label’ data, such as product origin, ingredients and manufacturing working conditions. In the next 40 years, GS1 says it wants to “build a world where things and related information move efficiently and securely for the benefit of businesses and improvement of people’s lives, every day, everywhere”.

More information about GS1’s 40th birthday celebrations is available at

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