GS1 celebrates 50 years of collaboration, innovation and leadership


Fifty years ago, on 31 March 1971, leaders from the biggest names in commerce came together and transformed the global economy forever by developing the Global Trade Item Number (known as the “GTIN”). This numerical code uniquely identifies every single product and is the core of the barcode, the most important supply chain standard in history. Today, GS1 barcodes are scanned over six billion times every day and remains one of the most trusted symbols in the world.

GS1 standards such as the barcode continue to help make the vast complexity of modern, global business flow quickly, efficiently and securely, simplifying all kinds of supply chain processes in almost every sector all around the world. 

Locally, GS1’s standards & services now power the recall systems used in the food & grocery sector, electronic catalogues connecting suppliers and retailers and government agencies, the legal entity identifier for all NZ businesses (the NZ Business Number), location identification embedded in the NZ COVID Tracer and radio-frequency ID used in sophisticated supply chains. Much of the product information visible to consumers on screen for grocery shopping comes also from GS1 as a service to supermarkets.

However, as consumers demand more and better product information, it is time to bring barcodes to the next level. 

Developments towards next generation barcodes (such as square barcodes like QR codes), which can hold vastly more information, should be used to empower consumers with trusted information and reshape global commerce for a new century. 

“As a non-profit standards agency, GS1 partners with private sector and government agencies to ensure transparency, satisfaction, safety and trust in supply chains and e-commerce,” said Dr Peter Stevens, CEO of GS1 NZ. “Like our predecessors half a century ago, we as business leaders must come together now, to develop standards that deliver even more useful and accurate product information. This type of collaboration and partnership can advance emerging technologies in ways that will benefit both businesses and consumers, all over the world.”

The full Media Release can be found here.