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This sub process describes the requirements, recommendations and guidelines STAND has, which may be relevant in production of a product to be traded in the grocery industry.

The process includes producing the product (Consumer Unit), packing it to a sales unit, usually a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), fully packaged and labelled.

The areas described are:

  • Total shelf life of the product
  • Possible use of dynamic shelf life
  • Traceability requirements for raw materials, input factors and finished products
  • Labelling of traceability information on Consumer Unit (CU) and Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
  • Labels on Stock Keeping Units (SKU)
    • Content, and which information that should be in the bar code on the label
    • Placement
    • Requirements when using GS1-128

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

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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


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.