Do barcodes indicate the country of origin of a product?

May 31, 2012

Some people check the barcodes of products before they buy them, believing that the first few digits of a barcode represent the country that the product was made in. In reality, this is a complete myth. Barcode numbers do not identify the country of origin of a product.

A barcode tells you nothing about the product itself or about where the product was made. A barcode is simply a unique sequence of numbers which contains no product (or company) information. The only link between a barcode and a product is that which is made on a retailers computer system. The only thing that the first few digits of  a barcode can tell you is where the barcode originated from (not where the product originated from). Because a barcode can be used in any country of the world it doesn’t matter which country it originally came from.

If you decide whether or not to buy a product due to the first few digits of its bar code number, you run the risk of supporting only your large national franchises & not your small local businesses. A large number of small (and new) businesses in your area grow, develop & produce their products locally, but get their barcodes from an overseas barcode seller. Many of your small, local companies use barcodes that originally came from another country (due to the often significant cost of purchasing ‘local’ barcodes & paying the required annual fees).

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the ‘country of origin’ of a product – however, if you want to support your local businesses (both small & large), don’t look to the barcode number to tell you about the ‘country of origin’ of a product. Instead, read the rest of the packaging more carefully for information about this.

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