Possibility of Using UPC for Items Definition in Food Industry Software


UPC (Universal Product Code) is a barcode symbology that is widely used in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, in European and other countries for tracking trade items in stores. These codes are printed on the wrapper of the items and are also reflected in bar codes.

Items or Ingredients used in the Food Industry are in thousands in numbers and impact one way or other on almost all the transactions in the Food Industry. Every business functions right from Procurement to Stores to Kitchen to Sales and even to Accounting deal with the items. With the movement of items from one division to another, the responsibility and ownership as well move. Industry studies and the Financial peg the item cost at around 65% of the total cost which is a significant portion. This obviously means that there has to be reasonable level of automation for tracking the movement to ensure that this major cost component is in control and no leakage.

Comparison of UPC and Industry Softwares Codification

Food Industry Softwares irrespective of the Size and Versatility have to necessarily use the items as one of the masters’ definition and this is basic and core. If at all, the difference among the Softwares can be only the level of automation and the business logic in the usage of Items. At minimal it can be static and information purposes and at best it can be used to the level of segmental costing and in the Finance and Operational dashboards.

The codification of Items in different Softwares can be in numeric or character with different digit counts. The advanced level or the most sophisticated and versatile Softwares have 12 digits. The digit count of 12 for definition of items matches with the UPC definition which also has 12 digits. Obviously those systems that do not have 12 digits for definition do not qualify to make use of UPC codes.

Is it possible to use UPC?

While the advanced level Food industry specific Softwares can match the basic criteria of digit counts in the codification of Items, the algorithm and logic of the 12 digits definition needs to considered.

Given below is the logic behind codification for Items in UPC

UPC Codification Concept

Food Industry Software Item Codification Concept

The Industry specific Softwares that this Author has exposure and access, have different methods and logic in codifying the Items. Majority of the Softwares merely use them as sequence number. The advanced level Softwares that addresses the Operational requirement of Control and Validation as well as the Managerial requirement to get valuable data for Costing and forecasting, have adopted certain codification logic. The one codification of Item Number that is bit impressive as it addresses the Industry’s issues and concerns, is given below:

  • Family – For Accounting Purposes
  • Sub-Family – For Inventory Analysis and Reporting
  • Class – Storage Type
  • Origin – Origin of the item
  • Item Number – Sequence Number


The purpose and intent of Item Codification is different between UPC and Industry Specific Software. High level analysis is given below:

About the Author: LN is an Industry specific solutions consultant. Has experience of providing consulting in Travel, Transportation and Hospitality Industry.