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Development of a product

Suppliers are encouraged to work closely with packaging suppliers and customers in developing new products.

Areas affected by, and subject to guidelines from STAND are:

  • Optimization and requirements for design of Consumer Unit (CU), Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU) with accompanying packaging materials
    • The modular system
    • Case fill rate
    • The top load labelling system
    • Automatic warehouse at distributor – increased understanding of depalletization process
    • Checklist
  • Valid pallets and requirements for these
  • Labelling requirements
    • Purpose of labelling of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU)
    • Product information on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), with example of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) label
    • Guidelines for labelling of Stock Keeping Units (SKU)
    • Product information on Distribution Unit (DU), with example of Distribution Unit (DU) label
    • Labelling of transport information
    • Guidelines for labels on Distribution Units (DU)
    • Bar code requirements for labelling with GS1-128 on Distribution Unit (DU)
  • Shelf life
    • Determine total shelf life of a product and labelling requirements
    • Allocation of shelf life between the players in the value chain
    • Use of dynamic shelf life
    • Bilateral agreements for allocation of shelf life
  • Traceability of a product
    • Guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal
    • Requirements for traceability of products and the product areas covered by this
    • Requirements for traceability information and labelling
    • Alternative ways to track and trace an item in the value chain

Optimization of Consumer Unit (CU), Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), Distribution Unit (DU) and packaging – central to the development of new products

The grocery industry has a common goal of being able to:

  • Streamline product flow
  • Reduce environmental impact
  • Promote sales
  • Reduce shrinkage

when new products are being developed.

To achieve this, it is crucial to standardize and optimize packaging on the product at all packaging levels – Consumer Unit (CU), Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU).

STAND has therefore prepared a standard for this, which applies to all packaging levels.

Audience for the standard is managers and everyone who works with product development, assortment and logistics in the value chain.

By complying with the standard, processes in the value chain are optimized and gains can be extracted in a number of areas such as:

Warehouse

  • Form Stable Distribution Units (DU) and Stock Keeping Units (SKU)
  • Correct quality of Distribution Units (DU) and Stock Keeping Units (SKU) for efficient handling through warehouse

Outbound transport

  • Withstand double stacking
  • Avoids shrinkage and damage

 Inbound transport

  • High case fill rate
  • Double stacking of pallets
  • Avoiding transport damage

 Shop

  • Effective replenishment
  • Sales-friendly, good visibility when Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is used to expose products
  • Optimal use of shelf space
  • Low food waste, with correct number of Consumer Units (CU) in Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

 Consumer

  • Optimal and user-friendly packaging
  • Clear, accurate and complementary product declaration
  • Recycling labelling

In addition, optimization of packaging through compliance with the standard will reduce environmental impact at all stages in the value chain, as part of the industry agreement with the authorities.

Exception from the standard
Under special conditions, exceptions from industry standards and guidelines may be relevant.

Exceptions must be agreed separately between the parties concerned and shall be described in Checklist for optimization of Consumer Unit (CU), Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU).

The check list can be downloaded as a separate document.

Requirements for design of Consumer Unit (CU)

Consumer Unit (CU) is the unit the consumer purchases in store.

Consumer Unit (CU) must be designed to optimize use of shop shelves and other furnishings. In addition, the information on the Consumer Unit (CU) should be visible even when the package is on a tray on the shelf.

Consumer Unit (CU) should be easy to open and to use.

Consumer Unit (CU) should be, included Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU) adapted to the modular system, see

Modular system.

To ensure efficient utilization of production facilities, transport, storage and retail systems, etc., all packaging levels – Consumer Units (CU), Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Units (DU) must be adapted to the modular system.

The modular system is based on physical goals; length, width and height.

The starting point for the modular system is a Basic module.
This has the dimensions; 600 mm * 400 mm and must be adjusted to a height as one Standard pallet (this amounts to 1050 mm ex. pallet, 1200 mm incl. pallet.

When optimizing an existing product, a deviation of a maximum of 49 mm is allowed.
This allows a total height including pallet of 1249 mm.

Example of optimized pallet with base module 600 x 400 mm

Examples of sizes that are widely used on Stock Keeping Units (SKU), and which are customized to basic modules

 

Unnecessary volume not containing the product itself in the packaging should be limited to what is necessary to protect the product. If necessary, secure against shrinkage (small, valuable Consumer Units (CU)).

Quantity (packing content) in Consumer Unit (CU) is determined by manufacturer, preferably in dialogue with distributor / retail chain.

Case fill rate shall be calculated. This is described in

Case fill rate.

Case fill rate

Case fill rate expresses the ratio of volume of product (measured in volume) to the volume of packaging.
The packaging system consists of Consumer Unit (CU) and Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

Example of case fill rate measurement for a bottle (Consumer Unit (CU)):

Unnecessary volume in the packaging of products is cost-driving and an impact on the environment throughout the value chain.
Therefore, all products must be optimized so that the degree of case fill rate and circulation ensures:

  • Good turnover of products in store
  • Little food waste (the size of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be adjusted to turnover and shelf life)
  • Minimal environmental impact

This animation shows how case fill rates are calculated for different products

More about the case fill rate, and more examples of how the case fill rate is calculated, can be found on the Tradesolution website, www.tradesolution.no.

On new products, it is expected that the case fill rate is higher than the average of the product group to which it belongs.

The average for the product group can be checked at www.dmf.no under Publications.

Requirements for design of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and packaging

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is the unit the retailer buys.
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) occurs in various forms, such as carton, reusable box / pallet box, intermediate carton and such.

The most important task of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is to secure Consumer Units (CU) from the time of manufacturing until it is finished exposed in a shop shelf.

The number of Consumer Units (CU) in a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is determined by the manufacturer, preferably in dialogue with the distributor / retail chain.

The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be adapted to the modular system, see

Modular system

To ensure efficient utilization of production facilities, transport, storage and retail systems, etc., all packaging levels – Consumer Units (CU), Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Units (DU) must be adapted to the modular system.

The modular system is based on physical goals; length, width and height.

The starting point for the modular system is a Basic module.
This has the dimensions; 600 mm * 400 mm and must be adjusted to a height as one Standard pallet (this amounts to 1050 mm ex. pallet, 1200 mm incl. pallet.

When optimizing an existing product, a deviation of a maximum of 49 mm is allowed.
This allows a total height including pallet of 1249 mm.

Example of optimized pallet with base module 600 x 400 mm

Examples of sizes that are widely used on Stock Keeping Units (SKU), and which are customized to basic modules

 

for picking and grouping of products can be done as efficient as possible.

Case fill rate shall be calculated. This is described in

Case fill rate

Case fill rate

Case fill rate expresses the ratio of volume of product (measured in volume) to the volume of packaging.
The packaging system consists of Consumer Unit (CU) and Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

Example of case fill rate measurement for a bottle (Consumer Unit (CU)):

Unnecessary volume in the packaging of products is cost-driving and an impact on the environment throughout the value chain.
Therefore, all products must be optimized so that the degree of case fill rate and circulation ensures:

  • Good turnover of products in store
  • Little food waste (the size of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be adjusted to turnover and shelf life)
  • Minimal environmental impact

This animation shows how case fill rates are calculated for different products

More about the case fill rate, and more examples of how the case fill rate is calculated, can be found on the Tradesolution website, www.tradesolution.no.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be designed to withstand the strain required in the value chain.

Automatic warehouses require that Stock Keeping Units (SKU) must be packed in a way that it can be lifted, stacked, clamped and handled with different mechanized devices, see Automated warehouse at distributor – greater understanding of the depalletization process.

Design requirements and packaging

When designing a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), it must be based on the modular system.
This means that the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should not be less than 100 x 150 mm and not more than 400 x 600 mm.

Example of best practices

Modular Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

 

Example of an inappropriate Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is not adapted to the modular system.

 

The size of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must consider the size of the shelf space for the current product group.
The short side of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should be front where appropriate.

There must be a simple and clear opening guide, preferably with illustration.

The packaging must be opened without using a knife.

When the Consumer Units (CU) is exposed in the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), the least possible of the Stock Keeping Unit’s (SKU) packaging should be visible when exposed in the store shelf.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must not weigh more than 15 kg.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be in recyclable cardboard or plastic.

Example of an inappropriate Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

Lid / plastic film is missing, which may cause Consumer Unit (CU) to fall out during internal transport.

Plastic boxes – all variants – must be considered to work in automated warehouse handling.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be form stable.

Example of best practices
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is form stable.

Example of best practices
Form stable Stock Keeping Units (SKU) that embraces close to its content and is strong enough to not deform.
Resists load on inbound transport (2 pallets in height), as well as handling through the value chain.

 

Example of an inappropriate Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
Not form stable. Do not resist strain on inbound transport (2 pallets in height), as well as handling through the value chain.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) that is only wrapped in plastic foil must have a tray / trough below.

Example of best practices
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on tray / trough with plastic wrap.

Stock Keeping Units (SKU) must have straight sides.

Example of best practices
Stock Keeping Units (SKU) with straight sides.

Glue quality and amount of glue on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be such that glued surfaces do not loosen.

Example of best practices
Glue quality and amount of glue is such that glued surfaces do not loosen.

Constructed example of an inappropriate Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
Too little glue / too few glue points are included that flap gaps with subsequent stops in automatic warehouse systems.

The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should be stackable and “ears” should only be used where it is necessary for stability.
Should “ears” be used, these should not exceed 5mm and should not be used in conjunction with intermediate pallet sheets.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should not have loose lid.
The lid must be attached to the tray / trough in such a way that it does not loosen during handling. It is recommended to use glue points or a locking mechanism.

The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must have a center of gravity relative to the base that allows it to be handled on conveyor belts.
The height / width ratio should be below 1.7 to ensure that the products do not fall under internal transport in an automatic warehouse.

Example of best practices
The ratio height / width is below 1.7.

 

Example of an inappropriate Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
The height / width ratio is over 1.7, which means that the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) can fall during internal transport.

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) exposure front should not be less than 30 mm, regardless of the chosen solution.
The information on the Consumer Unit (CU) must be visible.

Packaging capacity

During the design of the product and packaging it must be considered that the outer dimensions of the finished Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), tray and otherwise, under the load of the above-mentioned product packaging, due to bulging, is within the margin. In practice, this can be from 0.5 to 1.0 cm.

Optimal transport requires the use of load capacity of the transport systems (weight and height).

Generally, the packaging should be able to carry a similar pallet (2 identical pallets) without any breakage or clamping damage during transport and storage.

Exceptions from this must be specified and labelled on the (Distribution Unit (DU).

Method of calculation of carrying capacity is described in Top load labelling system.

The packaging shall be able to withstand shipping with other products for shipping to the store in a rational way.

In order to achieve the industry’s common goal of efficient flow of products, reduced negative environmental impact, promoted sales and reduced losses, it is important to focus on:

  • Top load
  • Stackability
  • Module customization

Especially for reusable boxes / pallet boxes
Basically, Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is desired in cardboard, or in combination with plastic.

Reusable boxes are an alternative to Stock Keeping Units (SKU) in corrugated paper but must be agreed bilaterally.

Particularly for Intermediate cartons
The use of Intermediate cartons should be kept as low as possible and must be agreed bilaterally.

Intermediate cartons are accepted in cases where the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) solution is not possible because the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) does not meet the requirements for strength, stability or size and where the use of intermediate pallet sheet on pallet is not possible.

The intermediate carton must be labelled so that it clearly differs from the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and shall not weigh more than 15 kg.

Requirements for the design of the Distribution Unit (DU) and palletization

The Distribution Unit (DU) is the unit the Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is stacked on / packed in for transport to distributor.

Design of a Standard pallet (Standard pallet and Standard pallet – Low)

A Standard pallet must contain the same product (same GTIN) with a fixed number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU), in a fixed pallet pattern, with equal number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU)on each layer, and where labelling of unique product information on the Distribution Unit (DU) is possible.

The pallet structure shall contain as little excess volume of “air” as possible.

Standard pallet
Maximum pallet height must be 1200 mm incl. pallet.
Tolerance limit for existing products is 1249 mm.

Standard pallet – Low
Maximum pallet height shall be 600 mm incl. pallet.
Standard pallet – Low is used for low-frequency products and for products with short shelf life.

 

Principles for the construction of a palletpattern, central in calculation of top load weight, ref Top load labelling system.

When creating a pallet pattern, the following applies:

  • A packaged Distribution Unit (DU) must be form stable and handling-friendly
  • A Distribution Unit (DU) shall withstand regular transport, handling and storage through the value chain
  • For single article Distribution Units (DU), all layers must contain the same number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU), and in a fixed pallet pattern
  • Requirements for equal number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) on each pallet / identical layer from pallet to pallet, with the possibility of variation between the layers
  • The pallet should not have overhang
  • The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should be placed on the pallet as it is exposed in the store
  • Do not glue between pallet layers or between Stock Keeping Units (SKU) in the same pallet layer
  • Gross height of pallet is 1200 mm. Tolerance limit for pallet height on existing products is 1249 mm

 

Types of pallet pattern

When constructing Distribution Units (DU), the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be placed in accordance with a given pallet pattern. These are referred to as bond stacking and column stacking. Pallets can also be built as a combination of bond stacking and column stacking.

Bond Stacking
Bond Stacking means that the units on every other layer are different, thus locking each other to a greater or lesser extent, but it reduces the compressive strength by approx. 40%.

Example of good pallet utilization and stacking with bond stacking, for good stability.

Column Stacking
Column stacking means stacking packages on top of each other without overlapping with other packages. This form of stacking gives maximum strength in terms of pressure load due to that the corners have better roll stiffness than the sides, but the stack gives poor stability without additional use of shrink wrap, strap, ribbon or similar.

Example of column stacking in the lower pallet layers, and bond stacking on the top layer. Combining the different stacking methods achieves good stack strength on the lower layers while the pallet is locked on top.
This is often a good alternative to intermediate pallet sheets.

Use of plastic to secure the pallet through the value chain

  • Shrink / stretch film must not be so tight that the packages are deformed
  • Shrink / stretch film must be tight around to the pallet
  • No tail of plastic must hang loose
  • Shrink / stretch film must not cover the fork lift openings on the pallet
  • Shrink / stretch film must not be fastened around the pallet blocks

Use of intermediate pallet sheets
Intermediate pallet sheets must be minimized and used only if this is necessary to ensure quality and transportability of the pallet.
Intermediate pallet sheets are preferred if the alternative to this is intermediate cartons, “Ears” on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) or use of corner trims.
Where intermediate pallet sheets are used, the following requirements apply:

  • The pallet sheet to be used for standard euro pallet should have dimensions of 750 mm * 1150 mm, ie 50 mm less than the length and width of the current load carrier
  • The pallet sheet must be of rigid cardboard or corrugated cardboard.
    • The stiffness of the pallet sheet must pass the following test: If the short edge of the plate hangs 500 mm from a flat surface (eg a table), the pallet sheet must not bend down more than 50 mm, see illustration below
  • No more than one intermediate pallet sheet between each layer
  • The intermediate pallet sheet must not be fastened and be flat
  • Only a whole intermediate pallet sheet, i.e. without holes or perforations, shall be used
  • In case of questions, one is encouraged to contact the packaging supplier

See also Automated storage at distributor – greater understanding of the depalletization process

Example of intermediate pallet sheet that does not meet quality requirements. The intermediate pallet sheet is a thin paper and is not suitable for automatic warehouse systems

Example of what happens when using “thin paper” intermediate pallet sheets.
The sheet is hanging down in the robot. It blocks for sensors that check that the layer is separated from the rest of the pallet. The robot will stop, and manual error correction must be carried out before the machine can be restarted.

 

 

Example of pallet with intermediate pallet sheets, too big – hanging on outside the pallet.
Is not suitable.

Intermediate pallet sheets with holes. Is not suitable.

Placement of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on pallet

It is a prerequisite for maintaining strength, that Stock Keeping Units (SKU) are placed within the edges of the pallet with a small margin.
Devices placed on or outside the edge can cause damage with subsequent reduced carrying capacity / risk of injury.

The pallet area should be utilized as best as possible with products. By following the

Modular system

To ensure efficient utilization of production facilities, transport, storage and retail systems, etc., all packaging levels – Consumer Units (CU), Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Units (DU) must be adapted to the modular system.

The modular system is based on physical goals; length, width and height.

The starting point for the modular system is a Basic module.
This has the dimensions; 600 mm * 400 mm and must be adjusted to a height as one Standard pallet (this amounts to 1050 mm ex. pallet, 1200 mm incl. pallet.

When optimizing an existing product, a deviation of a maximum of 49 mm is allowed.
This allows a total height including pallet of 1249 mm.

Example of optimized pallet with base module 600 x 400 mm

Examples of sizes that are widely used on Stock Keeping Units (SKU), and which are customized to basic modules

 

optimal use of the pallet is ensured and reduces the risk of the load shifting during transport.

Overhang is not accepted.

Valid pallets

This is an animation that show what pallets are valid for distribution.

Requirements specifications can be downloaded here:

Requirements for approved EUR-pallets
Specification for reusable 1/1 plastic pallet
Specification for reusable 1/2 plastic pallet
Requirements specification for reusable 1/3 plastic pallet (from NLP)
Specification for reusable 1/4 plastic pallet
Requirements Specification reusable 1/2 wooden pallet
Requirements specification for 1/3 and 1/2 disposable cardboard pallet

Purpose of labelling of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU)

The purpose of a standard for labelling of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU) with subsequent electronic data interchange (EDI) is to:

  • Achieve an efficient flow of products from manufacturer to consumer
  • Ensure traceability through the value chain, which is important in case an event or crisis occurs which requires a recall or withdrawal of the product

The basis for this is the labelling of each Distribution Unit (DU) with a unique SSCC.

This code is the main key in the electronic Despatch Advice and is linked to information about which GTIN which the Distribution Unit (DU) consists of, the number of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) batch / lot number and shelf life information if applicable.

SSCC is the most important key for traceability of Distributions Units (DU), see

Recommended way to track and trace a product in the value chain.

Recommended traceability methods in the value chain

Traceability using pallet labelling and EDI Despatch Advice
The recommended traceability method involves labelling load carriers with GS1 labelling system combined with EDI Despatch Advice (Advance Shipping Notice(ASN)).

For products distributed through the retailer’s distribution warehouses, the industry’s unified guidelines for the identification and Distribution Units (DU) are based on GS1 standards.
To conduct traceability, each actor in the value chain must have a system that can store and process Distribution Units (DU) or logistic units with unique identifiers.

Traceability at and from sender
Each packaging level (Consumer Units (CU), Stock Keeping Units (SKU), Distribution Units (DU)) has an assigned GTIN and must include a bar code on the label.
On Consumer Unit (CU), GTIN should preferably be labelled with the EAN-13 bar code symbol.
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on the Distribution Unit (DU) must be labelled with an approved bar code symbology and linked to the Distribution Unit’s (DU) unique identification.
Each pallet must be labelled with one GS1-128 bar code pallet label. The label contains a unique identifier (SSCC) which enables a link between the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on the pallet and the batch / lot number stored in the sender’s IT systems.

If the pallet is split or changed (for example, to one Mixed pallet or Promotional Unit, it shall be identified with a new GS1-128 label and SSCC. Mixed pallets are not labelled with product information.
The product information is attached to the pallet’s SSCC by scanning each Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) when the Distribution Unit (DU) is being assembled.

Once the sender has created the connection between the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU and the Distribution Unit (DU) and secured this, the information can be used to make an EDI Despatch Advice.
The EDI Despatch Advice is then sent from the sender to the recipient of the products. The parties are identified with GLN. This provides a clear and secure identification of the parties and is central to traceability. The Despatch Advice contains all relevant product information (GTIN, batch / lot and shelf life) about the shipment, and that it ties it to each Distribution Unit (DU) using SSCC.

For shipment, the supplier scans all outgoing Distribution Units (DU) and thus has a unified link between the individual product, its associated batches and which customer receives the product. This also enables effective control of the sending of correct products to customers.

Sender sends EDI Despatch Advice to recipient at agreed time.

Traceability at receiver
When the products arrive at the recipient, each pallet will be scanned.
All Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU) information is received in the EDI Despatch Advice. Using the EDI Despatch Advice, the tracking information is taken care of and significantly simplifies the products receipt.
The link to the product information occurs when the recipient scans the SSCC on each Distribution Unit (DU). Here, the recipient connects information about the products (GTIN, batch and shelf life information, against the sender (GLN).

For a Standard pallet all relevant information can be scanned from the Distribution Unit (DU) labels. This ensures that correct products are received at the same time as traceability information can be linked to the individual supplier. This simplifies and ensures the sharing of proper traceability information.

Mixed pallets must be split into the warehouse, and through IT support ensure that accurate and statutory traceability information is safeguarded and connected correctly.

Efficiency and traceability are achieved primarily through:

  • Synchronization of product information between the various parts in the value chain.
    The purpose is for all players to obtain correct and coherent product information about the products. Between suppliers and retail chains in the Norwegian groceries sector the EPD database is used for the registration, quality assurance and distribution of product information.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) between the actors.
    The purpose is to reduce manual operations and reduce lead time in the value chain. The most widely used EDI messages are order, order confirmation, Despatch Advice and invoice.
  • Standardized labelling of outer packaging.
    The purpose is to contribute to faster and more efficient shipping, distribution and receipt of the products. A common labelling concept for the grocery industry is used here; GS1-128.

To ensure rational product and information flow in the distribution chain, STAND recommends a uniform labelling of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Units (DU).
This simplifies the labelling of the manufacturer / supplier, shipment by shipper / freight forwarders and merchandise at distributor / store.

This labelling concept also applies to types of transport units other than pallets.

For fish and fish products, the following applies:
STAND has decided that it is referred to Norwegian Standard NS9405: 2014 “Fish and fish products. Requirements for labelling of distribution units and pallets in the trade of fish and fish products» for products that fall under this category.

It can be ordered from Standard Norway. It is published in Norwegian, English and French.

Product information on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), with example of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) label

Only product information should be labelled on a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).
What information to be labelled depends on the type of product.

Intermediate Cartons shall be labelled as Stock Keeping Units (SKU)

Product information that SHALL be labelled

GTIN – Global Trade Item Number – is a collective term on GS1’s different numbering systems for product identification.
This includes GTIN-8 (8 digits), GTIN-12 (12 digits), GTIN-13 (13 digits) and GTIN-14 (14 digits).

All Stock Keeping Units (SKU) must have their own GTIN.

  • For variable measure Stock Keeping Units (SKU), GTIN-14 with a leading digit 9 should be used.
  • For other products, GTIN-13 is recommended.

Product name

The product’s name must be in plain text on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) product label. Product name must be based on the text in the Norwegian grocery data pool – EPD database, and consists of product name, attributes, and product description. The product description labelled on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must correspond to the text of the Despatch Advice and the invoice. Product description should also contain a package description: for example, Coffee 12 x 500gr.

Product information that CAN be labelled

Supplier’s item number
can be labelled in plain text.

Name of brand owner
shall be shown in plain text either on the label or on the packaging.

Batch / lot number.
GS1-128 AI 10 must be used.
This is a number generated by the manufacturer that is used to achieve full traceability for the product in the value chain, i.e. from manufacturer, through all parts of the value chain, and finally to the retailer.

Shelf life information
GS1-128 AI 15 should be labelled on all Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) that have “Best before date” printed on the Consumer Unit (CU).
Alternatively, GS1-128 AI 17 can be used if “Expiration date” is being used.

Net weight
GS1-128 AI 3103 shall be used for variable measure Stock Keeping Units (SKU).
Net weight means weight of product excluding packaging (the same weight that is being invoiced).

 

Overview of product information that shall or may be labelled on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU):
Information Human readable text GS1-128 (bar code) AI Format
GTIN for Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) Must be labelled Must be labelled 01 n2 + n14
Name of brand owner Must be labelled Not labelled
Product name Must be labelled Not labelled
Batch / lot number Must be labelled Must be labelled 10 n2 + an..20
Best before date1) Must be labelled if
Consumer Unit (CU) is marked
with best before date
Must be labelled if
Consumer Unit (CU) is marked
with best before date
15 n2 + n6

 

Net weight Must be labelled for products
with variable weight
Must be labelled for products
with variable weight
310x n4 + n6

 

Supplier’s item no. Can be labelled Not labelled
1) Alternatively, the expiration date (GS1-128 AI 17) may be used for shelf life labelling.

 

Example of GS1 Product label for Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

Guidelines for labelling of Stock Keeping Units (SKU)

Type of bar code symbol
When labelling with bar code on Stock Keeping Units (SKU) GS1-128 bar code shall be used.

Identical information
Same information (GS1-128 AI) should only occur once per label.

Size and design of labels
Since the shape and size of the Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is highly varied, size and design of the label may also vary.

Quality of labels
It is a prerequisite that the labels are readable throughout the value chain for the entire life span of the unit. Therefore, the quality of GS1-128 bar codes must minimum fulfill print quality with “Grade C” according to standard ISO / IEC 15416.
To achieve “Grade C” when reading, “Grade B” or better is recommended at printing.
Quality of labels and bar codes can be verified at GS1 Norway.

Placement of labels on Stock Keeping Units (SKU)
It is recommended that the Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is labelled on two sides.
If labelling can only be done on one side, the label on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be on the same side as one of labels on the pallet (consistent orientation).

By column stacking the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) label will be oriented towards one pallet label (either on the short or long side of the pallet).

 

By bond stacking (like bricks) the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) label could be oriented towards the two labels of the pallet. That is, both on the short and the long side of the pallet.

 

  

Bar codes
The following recommendations apply to GS1-128 bar code symbols:

  • The orientation of the bar code should be such that the bars are vertical (picket fence).
  • Size factor is in the range of 25 to 94% of nominal size.
  • The minimum bar code height is 13 mm.
  • Minimum 5 mm height on human readable text.
  • The location of the bar code should be such that the bottom of the bar code is about 32 millimeters from the bottom of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).
  • The bar code symbol included quiet zone (margins), must be at least 19 millimeters from a vertical edge to avoid damage to the label.
  • If the height of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is less than 50 mm, the bar code should be placed as high as possible and information to be written in plain text can be placed to the left of the bar code

 

Placement of bar code symbols on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)

 

Placement of bar code symbols on Stock Keeping Units (SKU) with height less than 50 mm

 

Product information on Distribution Unit (DU), with example of Distribution Unit (DU) label

The standard differs on different types of pallets depending on the content.

Only Standard pallet and Promotional Unit can provide a clear labelling of product information that applies to the entire pallet.

Standard pallet
A Distribution Unit (DU) containing the same product (same GTIN) with fixed count of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and where labelling of unique product information on the Distribution Unit (DU) is possible.

It is recommended that a Standard pallet only contain Stock Keeping Units (SKU) with the same batch / lot number and shelf life date.

There are two different types of Standard pallet:

  • Standard pallet with height 120 cm
  • Standard pallet with height 60 cm (Standard Pallet – Low)

Standard pallet – Low is used for low-frequency products and for products with short shelf life.

A product can only be used on one type of Standard pallet, either 120 cm height or 60 cm height.

Standard pallet with height 120 cm

 

Standard pallet with height 60 cm (Standard pallet – Low)

 

Standard pallet shall be labelled with product and transport information.

Since product information and transportation information are usually known at different times, the practical solution is to label the device with two different labels:

  1. Product information label (incl. SSCC)
  2. Label with transport information

 

Product information on the GS1 product label for Standard pallet

SSCC (License Plate)
Must be labelled with GS1-128 AI 00 on the GS1 Product label on each Standard pallet in human readable text and in the bar code. The SSCC provides a unique identification of each Distribution Unit (DU). The bar code containing the SSCC should be the lowest bar code on the label. It is recommended to have a bar code containing only the SSCC and no other AI’s.

GTIN – Global Trade Item Number
Standard pallet must be labelled with GTIN. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Primarily, GTIN for the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should be used
  • GS1-128 AI 02 must be used. The count of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) is also required on the Distribution Unit (DU) using GS1-128 AI 37
  • The Distribution Unit’s (DU) own unique GTIN can also be used, using GS1-128 AI 01.

Product name
The product’s name must be written in human readable text on the Distribution Unit’s (DU) product label. Product name must be based on the text in the Norwegian grocery data pool – EPD database, and consists of product name, attributes, and product description. The product description labelled on the Distributions Unit (DU) must correspond to the text in the Despatch Advice and the invoice.

Batch / lot number.
GS1-128 AI 10 is generated by the manufacturer and used to track the product back to specific production series.

If all Stock Keeping Units (SKU) on the pallet have the same batch / lot number, this is indicated on the label in human readable text and bar code. If the pallet contains Stock Keeping Units (SKU) with different batch / lot numbers, batch / lot number is omitted on the label. However, all unique batch / lot numbers must be stated in the electronic Despatch Advice.

Shelf life information
GS1-128 AI 15 should be labelled on all Distribution Units (DU) that contain Consumer Unit (CU) with “Best before date” printed on them.
Alternatively, the expiration date (GS1-128 AI 17) may be used for shelf life marking.

Net weight (in grams)
GS1-128 AI 3103 shall be used for variable measure products. Net weight means weight of product excluding packaging (the same weight that is being invoiced).

Gross weight (in whole kg)
Shall be labelled in human readable text on each Distribution Unit (DU). Gross weight means weight of products, packaging and pallet (load carrier).

Max. top load (in whole kg)
Must be labelled in human readable text.
Distribution Units (DU) that can not be stacked (in transport or storing) are marked with: Cannot be stacked (Kan ikke stables).

Temperature requirements
shall be labelled in human readable text if the product has a temperature requirement.

 

Product labelling on Standard pallet

Overview of product information that shall or may be labelled on Standard pallet:
Information Human readable text GS1-128 (bar code) AI Format
SSCC (License Plate)1) Must be labelled Must be labelled 00 n2 + n18
GTIN for the Distribution Unit (DU)2) Can be labelled Can be labelled 01 n2 + n14
GTIN for the contained Stock Keeping Units (SKU) Must be labelled Must be labelled 02 n2 + n14
Count of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) on the DU Must be marked except when DU is defined as an SKU Must be marked except when DU is defined as an SKU 37 n2 + n..8
Product name Must be labelled Not labelled
Batch / lot number3) Must be labelled Must be labelled 10 n2 + an..20
Best before date4) Must be labelled if Consumer Unit (CU) has printed best before date Must be labelled if Consumer Unit (CU) has printed best before date 15 n2 + n6
Net weight Must be labelled for products of variable measure Must be labelled for products of variable measure 3103 n4 + n6
Gross weight Must be labelled Can be labelled 3300 n4 + n6
Max. top load Must be labelled Not labelled
Temperature requirements Must be labelled if the product has temperature requirements Not labelled
1) SSCC shall be indicated on the product label but permitted on both labels provided that the same number is used.

2) Can be used in a case for a transitional period.

3) If Batch / Lot No. is omitted on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), or it is different Batch / Lot No. on the Stock Keeping Units (SKU) this should not be labelled on the Distribution Unit (DU).

4) Alternatively, the expiration date (GS1-128 AI 17) may be used for shelf life marking.

 

Example on the GS1 product label for Standard pallet

 

 

Promotional Unit

A Unit defined as a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) containing a fixed number of Consumer Unit (CU), intended for display in stores.

Promotional Unit can be 1/1 pallet, 1/2 pallet or 1/3 pallet.

Each Promotional Unit has its own load carrier.

Promotional Unit consisting of 1/2 pallet or 1/3 pallet are placed on a slave pallet. This constitutes a transport unit.

If slave pallet is omitted, this must be agreed bilaterally. For example, for 1/2 pallets with good stability, they can be tied together and exclude the slave pallet. This allows for better use of the pallet by increasing the Promotional Unit, thus allowing more items on the pallet.

 

Promotional Units are labelled with two levels of SSCC:

  • At the lowest level is labelled with Product label for Promotional Unit as a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) with the addition of SSCC. The product label is labelled on each Promotional Unit.
  • The whole Promotional Unit is labelled with Standard shipping label for the groceries sector. If the Promotional Unit is a 1/1 pallet, this is labelled as a Standard pallet.

Labelling of Promotional Units provides increased traceability in the value chain

 

Product information on the GS1 product label for Promotional Unit

SSCC (License Plate)
Must be labelled with GS1-128 AI 00 on the GS1 Product label on each Promotional Unit in human readable text and in the bar code. The SSCC provides a unique identification of each Distribution Unit (DU) The bar code containing the SSCC should be the lowest bar code on the label. It is recommended to have a bar code containing only the SSCC and no other AI’s.

GTIN – Global Trade Item Number
Promotional Unit must be labelled with GTIN. This can be done in the following ways:

  • Primarily, GTIN for the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) should be used
  • GS1-128 AI 01 must be used

Product name
The product’s name must be written in human readable text on the Distribution Unit’s (DU) product label.  Product name must be based on the text in the Norwegian grocery data pool – EPD database, and consists of product name, attributes, and product description. The product description labelled on the Distributions Unit (DU) must correspond to the text in the Despatch Advice and the invoice.

Batch / lot number
GS1-128 AI 10 is generated by the manufacturer and used to track the product back to specific production series.

If all Stock Keeping Units (SKU) on the Distribution Unit (DU) have the same batch / lot number, this is indicated on the label in plain text and bar code. If the Distribution Unit (DU) contains Stock Keeping Units (SKU) with different batch / lot numbers, batch / lot number is omitted on the label. However, all unique batch / lot numbers must be stated in the electronic Despatch Advice.

Shelf life information
GS1-128 AI 15 should be labelled on all Distribution Units (DU) that contain Consumer Unit (CU) with “Best before date” printed on them.
Consumer Unit (CU). Alternatively, the expiration date (GS1-128 AI 17) may be used for shelf life marking.

Net weight (in grams)
GS1-128 AI 3103 shall be used for variable measure Stock Keeping Units (SKU). Net weight means weight of product excluding packaging (the same weight that is being invoiced).

Gross weight (in whole kg)
shall be labelled in human readable text on each Distribution Unit (DU). Gross weight means weight of products, packaging and pallet (load carrier).

Max. top load (in whole kg)
must be labelled in human readable text.
Distribution Units (DU) that can not be stacked (in transport or storing) are marked with: Cannot be stacked.

Temperature requirements
shall be labelled in human readable text if the product has a temperature requirement.

 

Product labelling on Promotional Unit 

Overview of labelling of product information that may or may not be labelled on Promotional Unit:
Information  Human readable text GS1-128 (bar code) AI Format
SSCC (License Plate) Must be labelled Must be labelled 00 n2 + n18
GTIN for Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) Must be labelled Must be labelled 01 n2 + n14
Product name Must be labelled Not labelled
Batch / lot number1) Must be labelled Must be labelled 10 n2 + an..20
Best before date2) Must be labelled if Consumer Unit (CU) has printed best before date Must be labelled if Consumer Unit (CU) has printed best before date 15 n2 + n6
Temperature requirements Must be labelled if the product has temperature requirements Not labelled
Supplier’s item number Must be labelled Not labelled
1) If Batch / Lot No. is omitted on the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), or it is different Batch / Lot No. on the Stock Keeping Units (SKU) this should not be labelled on the Distribution Unit (DU).

2) Alternatively, the expiration date (GS1-128 AI 17) may be used for shelf life marking.

 

Example of Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) label with SSCC for Promotional Unit

 

Units where product information can not be entered on their own label

Mixed pallet
Two variants of Mixed pallets are described; with and without intermediate pallet.
On Mixed pallet it is not possible to enter product information on its own label.

Mixed pallet without intermediate pallet:
Pallet consisting of several different products.

 

Mixed pallet with intermediate pallet:
Pallet consisting of several different products, where each product is stacked in one or more layers, and where each different product is separated by an intermediate pallet.

 

The choice of type of mixed pallet depends, among other things, on handling costs, transport / environmental costs and storage technology and must be agreed bilaterally between the parties.
Packaging and stability of the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) must be considered when choosing type of a Mixed pallet.

If intermediate pallet(s) are used, it shall always be ordered the amount of Stock Keeping Units (SKU) to complete a layer.

Mixed pallet (both with and without intermediate pallet) is labelled with Standard shipping label for Norwegian grocery sector.

 

Customer packed pallet

When a supplier assembles products for delivery to the final recipient, the products are packaged and labelled with SSCC at two packaging levels.

Customer packed units are labelled for delivery to the end-user and the Distribution Unit (DU) is labelled for delivery to the transit warehouse.

On Customer packed units it is not possible to enter product information on the Distribution Unit (DU) label.

 

A customer-packed pallet can be Customer packed unit – multiple route, multiple customers, Customer packed unit – single route, multiple customers, or Customer packed unit – single customer.

  • Customer packed unit – multiple route, multiple customers is a unit of products for two or more end recipients that will be split in transit storage.
  • Customer packed unit – single route, multiple customer is a unit of products for two or more end recipients on the same route or transport.
  • Customer packed unit – single customer is a unit of products that are intended for only one end recipient.

This Customer packed units does not need to have its own load carrier and is being loaded on a standardized transport unit (for example, an EUR pallet).

Customer packed unit – multiple route, multiple customers and Customer packed unit – single route, multiple customer is stacked in columns per. end receiver.

Customer packed unit – multiple route, multiple customers is split after products receipt in the transit warehouse, and the individual Customer packed unit is forwarded to the final recipient. A prerequisite is that all Customer packed units located on one Distribution Unit (DU) are destined for the same transit warehouse.

Transport information on pallet with example of transport label

Standard shipping label for the Norwegian grocery sector contains the following information:

Name, address etc. on sender.

The pallet must be labelled with the sender’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

Recipient’s name, address, etc.

The pallet must be labelled with the consignee’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

Buyer’s reference.

The pallet must be labelled with the buyer reference number (such as the customer’s order number). It is allowed to enter more references.

Gross weight (in whole kg)

Shall be labelled in human readable text on each pallet. Gross weight means weight of products, packaging and pallet (load carrier).

Max. Top load (in whole kg)

Must be labelled in human readable text.

SSCC (License Plate)

GS1-128 AI 00 should be labelled on each individual Promotional Unit in human readable text and in the bar code.

For shipment via Crossdocking terminal this applies in addition:

Name, address, etc. for the Crossdocking terminal.

The pallets shall be marked with the Crossdocking terminal name, street address, zip code and city. This information should be in the via-field.

Content of the Standard shipping label for the Norwegian grocery sector.

Overview of labelling of Standard shipping label:
Information  Human readable text GS1-128 (bar code) AI Format
Sender’s name, street address, postal code, city Must be labelled Not labelled
Recipient’s name, street address, postal code, city Must be labelled Not labelled
Name, address, etc. for the Crossdocking terminal Must be labelled when the delivery is via the Crossdocking terminal Not labelled
Buyer’s reference Must be labelled Not labelled
Gross weight Must be labelled Can be labelled 3300 n4 + n6
Max. Top load1) Must be labelled Not labelled
Temperature requirements Must be labelled Not labelled
SSCC (License Plate) Must be labelled Must be labelled 00 n2 + n18
1)    Max Top load is omitted for Mixed pallet.

 

Example of Standard shipping label for the grocery industry

 

Transport label for Standard pallet
Standard pallet is labelled with Standard shipping label for the grocery industry
A GS1 product label on a Standard pallet requires labeling of SSCC, gross weight, top load weight and temperature requirements.
This information can therefore be omitted from Standard shipping label for the grocery industry.

If both product label and transport label are used, SSCC can be labelled on both labels provided that the identical number is used.

Transport label for Promotional Unit
The Distribution Unit (DU) containing one or more Promotional Units is labelled with Standard shipping label for the grocery industry.
The Distribution Unit (DU) is identified and labelled with its own SSCC
If the Promotional Unit a 1/1 pallet, the same labelling of transport label as for Standard pallet is used.

Transport label for Mixed pallet
Mixed pallet (both with and without interlayer pallet) is labelled with Standard shipping label for the Norwegian grocery industry.
If the Mixed pallet is not stackable, information on Top load is omitted.

Transport label for Customer packed pallets

The Customer packed pallet is labelled with Standard shipping label for the grocery industry.
Note in particular:

Recipient’s name, address, etc.
As recipient transit warehouse is given and transit address is given as delivery address. The pallet must be labelled with the transit warehouse’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

Name, address, etc. for the distribution warehouse.
The via-field the distribution warehouse is given. The pallet must be labelled with the distributions warehouse’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

 

Transport label for Customer packed units

The Customer packed unit is labelled with a transport label containing the following information:

Name, address etc. on sender.
As a sender, supplier is given. The unit must be labelled with the sender’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

Recipient’s name, address, etc.
As a recipient, the end recipient / end delivery address is given. The unit must be labelled with the consignee’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text.

Name, address, etc. for the transit warehouse.
In the via field it’s entered the transit warehouse where the pallet is to be splitted /Crossdocked. The unit must be labelled with the transit warehouse’s name, street address, postal code and postal address in human readable text. 

Transport Information.
On this label, a separate field has been created for transport information. This is information that the buyer sends to the supplier in his order and which the supplier must put on the Customer packed unit’s transport label.
Format and content of transport information is agreed between the parties.

Buyer’s reference.
The unit must be labelled with the buyer reference number (such as the customer’s order number). 

Gross weight (in whole kg)
Shall be labelled in human readable text on each pallet. Gross weight means weight of products, packaging and pallet (load carrier).

Temperature requirements
Shall be labelled in human readable text if the product has a temperature requirement.

SSCC (License Plate)
GS1-128 AI 00 should be labelled on each individual Promotional Unit in human readable text and in the bar code.

 

Content in transport label for customer packed unit

Transport label for customer packed unit:
Information   Human readable text GS1-128 (bar code) AI Format
Sender’s name, street address, postal code, city Must be labelled Not labelled
End recipients’s name, street address, postal code, city Must be labelled Not labelled
Name, address, etc. for the transit warehouse Must be labelled Not labelled
Transport information1) Must be labelled Not labelled
Buyer’s reference Must be labelled Not labelled
Gross weight Must be labelled Can be labelled 3300 n4 + n6
Temperature requirements Must be labelled Not labelled
SSCC Code (licence plate) Must be labelled Must be labelled 00 n2 + n18
1) Transport information is agreed between the parties

 

Example of shipping label for Customer packed unit

 

 

Guidelines for labels on Distribution Units (DU)

Placement of labels on pallet
Two types of labels shall be used; label for product information and label for transport information.

  • The minimum requirement is that the pallet should be labelled on two sides with both label types; one of the short sides of the pallet and the right hand long side (seen from the short side).
  • Product and transport label must be on the same side of the pallet.
  • When multiple labels are used on the same side of the pallet, the labels should be placed underneath each other. The label that contains SSCC placed at the bottom.
  • The labels should be placed so that the bottom of the lowest bar code should be at least 400 mm above the floor, and the top of the uppermost bar code should not be more than 800 mm above the floor.
  • The label should be placed at least 50 mm from the vertical edge.
  • For pallets lower than 400 mm the labels should be placed as high as possible.
  • If all information is known at the time the pallet is labelled and there is space on the label, all information can be labelled on one single label.
  • To ensure automatic reading of the bar codes Promotional Units, Customer packed pallet and Mixed pallet should only the transport label on the transport unit be readable
  • Product label on Standard pallet with height 60 cm (Standard pallet – Low) should be placed as high as possible.

Identical information
Same information (GS1-128 AI) shall only appear once on the product and transport label.
This means in practice that the same information can not be repeated on the same label or that the same information may appear on multiple labels on the device (pallet).
The exception is SSCC which is allowed on both labels if it is an identical number used.

Size and design of the labels
The following recommendation applies:

  • The width of the label should be 105 mm or 148 mm
  • The height of the label may vary

Recommended formats are:

  • A5 (148mm x 210mm)
  • A6 (105mm x 148mm)
  • 105 mm x 192 mm

Quality of labels

  • It is a prerequisite that the labels are readable throughout the value chain for the entire life span of the unit
  • It is a requirement that the quality of GS1-128 bar codes minimum meets print quality with “Grade C” according to Standard ISO / IEC 15416.
    To achieve “Grade C” when reading, “Grade B” or better by printing is recommended
  • When affixing the labels, it is important to ensure that the bars in the GS1-128 symbol are correct and unbroken (avoid “wrinkling” on the label).

Bar code requirements for labelling with GS1-128 on Distribution Units (DU)

Bar code label with GS1-128 bar codes shall be done according to GS1 General Specifications Chapter 5.4.

Note in particular:

  • Size factor is in the range of 50 to 94% of nominal size.
  • The minimum bar code height is 32 mm.
  • When labelling GTIN (AI 01 and AI 02) always use 14 digits.
    When GTIN has 13 digits, you must enter a leading 0 (ex. 07038010000065).
  • For bar code labelling with GS1-128, a separator, called Function Code 1 (FNC1), is used between the individual information elements (AI’s).
    This applies except for the AI’s that have predefined fixed length.
    The following AI’s in this document have predefined length AI 00, AI 01, AI 02, AI 15.
  • It is recommended to have the AI’s to be followed by FNC1 at the end of the bar code, as the FNC1 code may be omitted.
  • It is important to the requirements for quiet zone (margins) to be adhered to.
    At size factor 50%, the right and left quiet zone margin is 5 mm, and at the size factor 94% the quiet zone margins are 9.4 mm.

Determine total shelf life of a product and requirements for labelling this

The responsibility for determining type of shelf life labelling and total shelf life lies with the manufacturer. The shelf life is calculated from the time the product is ready for sales, for example from after the product has been matured and checked.

The actual shelf life of the product is affected by a variety of conditions, primarily the properties of the raw material and the external impact.
The manufacturers are encouraged to assess whether dynamic shelf life labelling can be practiced.
This means that total shelf life can be expanded when conditions allows for this to be done.
The number of days marked on a product may therefore be more than the number of shelf life on selected products.
According to the Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority), the use of dynamic shelf life is within the current regulations.

Labelling
The packaging (Consumer Units (CU) and Stock Keeping Units (SKU)) shall be labelled according to the manufacturer’s choice of type of shelf life and total shelf life.

Allocation of total shelf life on a product

Reducing food waste is an overall goal in society. Food waste related to exceeding the limit values of shelf life between the parties in the value chain, constitutes a significant part.
Surveys shows that food waste are significantly reduced if the store and the consumer have a larger part of the total shelf life.

It is therefore a goal that the producer and distributor consume the least amount of available time and that the maximum amount of time is exposed to the consumer.

The grocery industry has defined one Table for allocation of shelf life of a product which regulates the responsibility for and expectations the recipient of products has, linked to shelf life.

In case of minor exceedances of the table’s limit values, participants are expected to seek solutions that provide the lowest possible food waste.

The parties are encouraged to develop performance and collaborate to reduce consumption of shelf life.

Evaluate the use of dynamic shelf life

“Expiry date overdue” is the main reason for food waste in the value chain. A more flexible shelf life labelling throughout the year could help reduce food waste.

Shelf life is affected by several conditions that may vary. It is possible to specify increased shelf life in periods of time or for batches. This is termed as “dynamic shelf life». In practice, it means that overall shelf life can be expanded when conditions give the opportunity to do so.

The supplier should inform the customer if dynamic shelf life is applied.

According to the Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority), the use of dynamic shelf life within the current regulations: “It is the manufacturer who assesses and puts the shelf life of the food products. Manufacturers know the raw materials and processes used. Shelf life should be based on common and realistic conditions for transportation, storage and sales. This does not prevent manufacturers from taking into account that there may also be different external conditions for the shelf life of the foodstuffs. In practice, manufacturers often put the shelf life out of the most demanding but realistic conditions throughout the year. If the business has full control and overview of the terms, nothing stops them from choosing different shelf life throughout the year for the same product. This means the food is given a shelf life that is adapted to season, temperature and other conditions.”

More information can be found here: http://www.mattilsynet.no/mat_og_vann/merking_av_mat/generelle_krav_til_merking_av_mat/holdbarhetsmerking_paa_matvarer.2711

Examples of using dynamic shelf life that could have longer shelf life than often is the practice today:

  • Different temperatures throughout the year

In order to make a realistic assessment, the producer assumes that the products are stored in normal outdoor / room temperature for a shorter period of time through the value chain, such as transshipment, stock refills in stores, consumer carts, transport from store to home and in the home (in and out of the fridge and on the kitchen table). In summer, the outdoor / room temperature is higher and thus has a greater impact on shelf life. To make a realistic assessment, it’s normal to take into account the assumptions in the summer period and determine the shelf life based on this, and the same shelf life is normally used throughout the year.

  • Different shelf life based on different technology

Different companies may have different production methods and / or hygiene standards. To make a realistic assessment, the starting point is the technology that provides the shortest shelf life.

  • Different shelf life of raw materials

The regulations or internal rules stipulate that raw materials that are up to x days “old” may be used at any given time in the manufacturing process. Then the shelf life is determined by using x-day-old raw material each time. This even though you often use fresher raw materials than x days.

  • Different raw material quality

Raw material quality may vary naturally over a year, and in some cases this may affect shelf life. To make a realistic assessment, the raw material with the shortest shelf life is used, and normally uses the same shelf life of the finished foods throughout the year.

Dynamic shelf life and the EPD database

There is no need for any changes to the EPD database to utilize dynamic shelf life.

It is the product’s shortest shelf life during the year the supplier must register in the EPD database.

The establishment of bilateral agreements for the assessment of shelf life

The risk of food waste is related to the remaining shelf life of a product. To avoid food waste, the players in the grocery industry have agreed to exhibit flexibility in the value chain to handle minor deviations in assessment of shelf life. This is done by establish bilateral agreements.

Bilateral agreements will contribute to more flexible assessment of shelf life, thereby reducing food waste in the value chain (manufacturers, distributors, retailers), considering specific and specific conditions, such as geographical distance to customer / market, and volume of sales.

The grocery industry has defined a table for the assessment of total shelf life, based on a three-division between manufacturer, distributor and retailer / consumer. The table prepared for this applies unless otherwise agreed bilaterally.

For products with short shelf life (42 days or less), conditions such as distance to the market and volume of sales will be decisive for determining optimal assessment of shelf life.

  • For products with shelf life between 17 and 42 days it is encouraged to consider establish bilateral agreements
  • For products with shelf life below 17 days there shall be established bilateral agreements

How to establish bilateral agreements
The assessment of shelf life as stated in the table is the basis for the bilateral agreements.
All parties can initiate bilateral agreements based on expected potential for reduction of total food waste.

Description of how the risk will be shared should be included in the agreements.

Measuring consumed shelf life in the value chain is an instrument for securing facts and monitoring development.

Some examples of situations where it may be appropriate to establish bilateral agreements:

  • Deviant date from the table

One example of reducing waste for products with short shelf life is that a supplier in the eastern part of Norway establish a bilateral agreement with a customer regarding a better date than is stated in the table for deliveries to, for example, northern part of Norway, while for example a customer in the middle and western part of Norway receives deliveries according to the table and with the possibility of deviating dates for smaller volumes for deliveries to the southern and eastern part of Norway.

  • Divergence date in the beginning of the week

Products delivered at the beginning of a week is quickly reaching the distributor / distribution centre and the retailer before the weekend and is less prone to simple date deviations. Similarly, it is less appropriate to deliver products with “last day according to STAND” or with date deviations on Fridays, if they will not be received by distributor / distribution centre before Sunday evening / Monday.

  • Deviant date for promotions

In advance of a promotional period, a delivery agreement with a few day date deviations may be applicable, as these products will have higher turnover than usual for the distributor / distribution centre and at retailers. To reduce the risk of increased drop by lower turnover than usual at the distributor / distribution centre and at retailer at the end of the promotional period, a better date should be provided than indicated in the table.

  • Product / value chain specific assessments

Depending on the product / value chain, it may be advisable to redistribute days. For example:
Product with uneven turnover at retailers and / or a lot of waste at retailers.
Here it may be advisable to redefine days from supplier and / or distributor to retail days.
Product with steady turnover at retailers and / or a small amount of food waste.
Here it may be advisable to redefine days from retail and / or distributor to supplier.

Guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal

Guidelines have been developed for traceability, recall and withdrawal in the grocery industry.
The guidelines are to be understood as recommendations that actors must bilaterally agree on whether to be followed or not.

The guidelines are based on Norwegian and international provisions on food safety and traceability:

  • Norwegian Food Manufacturing Act and Food Safety (Matloven, January 1, 2004.)
  • EU Food Law (Regulation EC 178/2002, January 2002), including traceability provisions, valid from 1 January 2005.

In addition, the Product Liability Act also contains general rules on safety and liability for products (food and non-food) that are supplied in the market, and that there are special provisions for medicines that also regulate traceability requirements.

Mattilsynet (The Norwegian Food Safety Authority) has had the guidelines for review and contributed comments on relevant areas.

The guidelines are the industry’s interpretation of existing laws and regulations.
The guidelines have not been legally tested, and there is currently no legal practice in the area.
By introducing the simplest systems, the legal requirements for traceability according to the industry’s perception will be satisfied.
Some types of food may be subject to additional requirements for traceability from the authorities.

More about the legal aspects can be found in Legal aspects of guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal.

Goals for the guidelines
The guidelines aim to “help the actors to meet the consumer expectations for safe products».

Target group for the guidelines

  • Quality assurance managers
  • Supply chain / logistics managers
  • Managers for factory and warehouse
  • Customer and consumer services
  • Legal departments
  • Communications managers
  • IT
  • Persons responsible for implementing traceability solutions

The degree of implementation and the infrastructure a business has chosen determines what investments must be made.
The costs can be significant, but the cost of not having such a function or having inefficient systems can also be significant.

It is a common opinion in the grocery industry that the use of common guidelines and standards improves efficiency and reduces total cost in the value chain.

Requirements for traceability of products

The law requires that each company should have systems to document which products have been purchased from the individual supplier and which customer has purchased the company’s finished products. This also includes raw materials and other input factors covered by the legislation, ref.

Product areas covered by guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal.

The policies include traceability for:

  • commodities, plants, animals or food stuff
  • materials and objects that are intended to encounter, or may affect, commodities or food stuff.

The guidelines are recommended for foods and non-food products, except for pharmaceuticals.

Areas not described in the guidelines

  • Internal tracking systems
  • Fodder, allergic practices and agricultural practices, including the use of GMOs
  • Prevention of pollution (e.g. disinfectants)
  • Development and implementation of quality assurance in a company
  • Implementation of product and / or pallet labelling systems, etc.

The above areas are not described in the guidelines, but do not mean that there are no provisions or regulations for this elsewhere.

There is no requirement in the legislation for the types of systems to be used for this.
Traceability can be manually based in the simplest form, while others have an advanced IT system to follow up on this.

Central to the legislation is the duty of each company to undertake risk analysis over which health risks the products represent, and how the company will relate to this in terms of traceability.

Businesses can practice more comprehensive traceability systems than the minimum requirements of the law, but this is either based on self-imposed claims or agreements with, and orders from, the contracting parties.

Traceability
Traceability is based on following the physical commodity flow.
All parties should be able to track their products one step forward and one backwards.

Traceability one step forward:
Traceability one step forward means the address to which the products are delivered to.
An invoice system that contains information about item number / tradename, customer number / customer name and invoice date is sufficient to track a step forward in the value chain.

If your business has one batch concept, this should be included in the invoice, Despatch Advice or that the company’s own expedition system is directly linked to the invoice.

Traceability one step backwards:
Traceability one step backwards means the address the products are delivered from.
The company must provide a log of received products describing which products are purchased from whom and in what quantity on date.

If the addresses for where products are delivered from or delivered to are not in accordance with the legal ownership of the products and the invoice fee, this should be agreed separately between the parties.

Requirements for traceability information and labelling

The main purpose of tracking information is to provide a basis for effective withdrawal/recall of food and other products as a part of consumer expectations for safe products.

Traceability information also includes raw materials and other input factors used in the production of finished products, ref.

Product areas covered by guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal.

The policies include traceability for:

  • commodities, plants, animals or food stuff
  • materials and objects that are intended to encounter, or may affect, commodities or food stuff.

The guidelines are recommended for foods and non-food products, except for pharmaceuticals.

Areas not described in the guidelines

  • Internal tracking systems
  • Fodder, allergic practices and agricultural practices, including the use of GMOs
  • Prevention of pollution (e.g. disinfectants)
  • Development and implementation of quality assurance in a company
  • Implementation of product and / or pallet labelling systems, etc.

The above areas are not described in the guidelines, but do not mean that there are no provisions or regulations for this elsewhere.

Traceability information and labelling
EU Regulation 178/2002 requires the products to be labelled to enable traceability.
The labelling must be affixed to the product packaging and be readable.

The information that shall be marked on the product:

  • Supplier Name
  • Item number / tradename

In addition, the sender’s system must have an overview of which recipient the products have been sent to. The recipient must have an overview of which sender the products are received from.

Information that can be labelled on the products and which will simplify the work:

  • Best before date
  • Expiry date
  • Batch / Lot number
  • Identification of load carrier (eg pallet)

In addition, it is recommended:

Sender to register:

  • Amount sent
  • Shipping Date
  • Receipt Date (if known)

Recipient to register:

  • Amount received
  • Shipping Date (if known)
  • Receipt Date

Recommended traceability methods in the value chain

Traceability using pallet labelling and EDI Despatch Advice
The recommended traceability method involves labelling load carriers with GS1 labelling system combined with EDI Despatch Advice (Advance Shipping Notice(ASN)).

For products distributed through the retailer’s distribution warehouses, the industry’s unified guidelines for the identification and Distribution Units (DU) are based on GS1 standards.
To conduct traceability, each actor in the value chain must have a system that can store and process Distribution Units (DU) or logistic units with unique identifiers.

Traceability at and from sender
Each packaging level (Consumer Units (CU), Stock Keeping Units (SKU), Distribution Units (DU)) has an assigned GTIN and must include a bar code on the label.
On Consumer Unit (CU), GTIN should preferably be labelled with the EAN-13 bar code symbol.
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on the Distribution Unit (DU) must be labelled with an approved bar code symbology and linked to the Distribution Unit’s (DU) unique identification.
Each pallet must be labelled with one GS1-128 bar code pallet label. The label contains a unique identifier (SSCC) which enables a link between the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) on the pallet and the batch / lot number stored in the sender’s IT systems.

If the pallet is split or changed (for example, to one Mixed pallet or Promotional Unit, it shall be identified with a new GS1-128 label and SSCC. Mixed pallets are not labelled with product information.
The product information is attached to the pallet’s SSCC by scanning each Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) when the Distribution Unit (DU) is being assembled.

Once the sender has created the connection between the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU and the Distribution Unit (DU) and secured this, the information can be used to make an EDI Despatch Advice.
The EDI Despatch Advice is then sent from the sender to the recipient of the products. The parties are identified with GLN. This provides a clear and secure identification of the parties and is central to traceability. The Despatch Advice contains all relevant product information (GTIN, batch / lot and shelf life) about the shipment, and that it ties it to each Distribution Unit (DU) using SSCC.

For shipment, the supplier scans all outgoing Distribution Units (DU) and thus has a unified link between the individual product, its associated batches and which customer receives the product. This also enables effective control of the sending of correct products to customers.

Sender sends EDI Despatch Advice to recipient at agreed time.

Traceability at receiver
When the products arrive at the recipient, each pallet will be scanned.
All Stock Keeping Units (SKU) and Distribution Unit (DU) information is received in the EDI Despatch Advice. Using the EDI Despatch Advice, the tracking information is taken care of and significantly simplifies the products receipt.
The link to the product information occurs when the recipient scans the SSCC on each Distribution Unit (DU). Here, the recipient connects information about the products (GTIN, batch and shelf life information, against the sender (GLN).

For a Standard pallet all relevant information can be scanned from the Distribution Unit (DU) labels. This ensures that correct products are received at the same time as traceability information can be linked to the individual supplier. This simplifies and ensures the sharing of proper traceability information.

Mixed pallets must be split into the warehouse, and through IT support ensure that accurate and statutory traceability information is safeguarded and connected correctly.