Barcode Labels: Do I need a barcode? How do I get a barcode?

Posted on by kginter

Are you a business owner about to launch a new product and wondering if you need a barcode on your label? Or maybe you’re a business owner who already has a product and you’re considering adding a barcode to your label. You might be unsure about whether or not you really need a barcode or not. Well, we’re here to help save you from headaches and stress. Let’s breakdown the needs and uses for barcodes!


How to Get a Barcode on Your Retail Product Label

Although there is no law that you must have a barcode, most retailers and distributors will require you to have one for inventory and sales records purposes.

If you are planning to sell your products in a retail market, you should register your product with GS1. GS1 is a global keeper of barcodes. You will be assigned and registered to your own unique barcode that identifies your company as the maker of the product. GS1 will provide you with a unique 12 digit UPC (Universal Product Code) or EAN company identification number that you will enter into a UPC-A or and EAN-12 barcode on your products label. By having a registered barcode, your retail product can be scanned and the information embedded in the code will be in the system ready to go.

Of course, barcodes are just one component of a retail label. If you have a small business in the USA, you might be interested in reading these tips regarding the FDA labeling exemptions for food products.

Keeping Better Inventory and Reducing Errors with Barcode Labels 

Barcodes can also help you to keep a better inventory of your own products, especially if your product line is large and diverse. You can create special barcodes to best fit your numbering and inventory system.  By printing a label with a barcode on it, you can simply scan your barcode rather than rely on someone taking a physical inventory. This not only saves time and money, but it also tremendously reduces the risk of human error.

Having the wrong information in your supply chain or business operation can wreak havoc. These errors can account for business being lost and for higher operating expenses. Your information is one of your most valuable assets and you want to be sure it is being taken care of in a reliable way – this is where barcode labeling shines.

A great example of this is labeling a medical device or labeling a pharmaceutical product with a barcode. Many times these very products have many different variations. Or even if you’re a coffee roaster, if you have 50 different roasts or flavors, it may be hard to keep them all straight. A barcode label can be affixed to the finished product while it is in inventory, so that when the time comes for the item to be picked for shipping, the barcode can be scanned. This will help you to ensure that the right inventory is being picked and shipped to the correct customer.

Avoiding Fraud with Barcode Labels 

Piracy and counterfeiting have become more and more common around the world, and such scams can affect your business or industry economically. Most commonly counterfeited are wine labels, fashion labels, and pharmaceutical drug labels.

Counterfeiting is growing so fast that it is hard to control. The United States in particular is hit hard by counterfeiting since it is the world’s largest consumer market. In 2007 alone, 750,000 US jobs were lost due to counterfeiting. Counterfeiters are becoming very smart about what they are doing and one of the best solutions for preventing counterfeit items from making their way into our retail environment is by using barcode labels.

You can use your labels and packaging to fight back against counterfeiting. If you have a product that is at high risk of being duplicated, you can create your own barcode that contains specific information so that it can be scanned to ensure that it is a genuine product. Having a barcode to scan assures retailers that your product is legitimate and safe. These codes can prevent counterfeit pharmaceutical products, wine, baby formula, and even fraudulent unsafe software from getting into consumer hands.

Generating Traffic to Social Platforms: QR Codes 

The QR Code is a much newer type of barcode that has become popular over the last few years. QR Codes are 2D codes that are able to hold larger amounts of information than simple 1D codes such as the UPC barcode. Marketers have taken advantage of the ability to print labels with QR codes and now use QR codes to link consumers to websites such as their brand’s website, social media pages, and even contest pages. With the evolution of the cell phone, consumers are able to scan these codes with their mobile device and browse these websites from their phones.

The QR Code makes for a seamless connection between the brand and the consumer because it keeps them constantly connected. You’ll find beverage companies and food companies printing QR Codes on their labels to entice consumers with recipes, coupons, and deals. Printing labels with QR codes is a great tool to take into consideration!

How Do I Start Printing My Own Barcode Labels?

If you want to start printing your own barcode labels, QuickLabel has several options for you. For simple black and white barcode printing, we have the Pronto! barcode label printer family. This printer is perfect for a table or desktop in your office or shipping room. The Pronto! has the ability to print even the smallest sized barcodes (as small as size 4 pt. type) with crisp, clear resolution. The Pronto! also makes barcode label graphics in near-lithographic print quality with consistent, solid fills and clean lines and curves. Some use the Pronto! 486 to make small-size identification labels, rating plate labels, and PC board labels. Others print single-color primary display labels for their products, making labels with logos and illustrations that help promote their brands on the retail shelf.

If you want to color code your barcode labels, our Vivo! Touch color label printer can do the job. The Vivo! Touch color label printer is able to digitally print color labels with color codes at the same time as it prints text, barcodes, color graphics, batch codes, lot codes, date codes, expiration dates, and any other label content. The Vivo! Touch can print color labels in high volumes in no time, perfect for companies with diverse product lines that need color coding for variation. A color coded label performs an important function as a “secondary indicator” of product identification information such as size, flavor, item number, and more. The FDA has recognized color coded labels as a supportive labeling feature for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

For more information on our line of label printers, stop by our website for more information or ask us for an onsite label printer demonstration!

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Update: TTB Approves Templates for Custom Wine Labels

Posted on by kginter

As many of you may already know or may have read in our previous blog “Plan on a 1-3 Month Delay for New Wine Label Approvals” the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has been lagging on approving wine labels for winemakers all over the country. It now appears that the process may be speeding up.

Frustrations with Label Approval Delays

One of the biggest frustrations among winemakers who are waiting on label approvals is the approval process for custom wine labels. These custom labels are generally designed for corporate gifts or personalized for special occasions like weddings or birthdays. Since these labels are “custom,” they are going to change from time to time depending on the occasion and the person who is ordering them. Yet each variation must be re-submitted for approval to the TTB!

Having to resubmit a modified label is becoming more and more frustrating. Approval times have been unpredictable, ranging anywhere from 1 to 3 months.

Demanding Action on Label Approvals

With this lengthy approval process taking its toll on the wine industry, senators from New York stepped up to the plate for their wineries, urging the TTB to find a way to speed up the label approval process. Senator Charles Schumer was especially vocal about finding a solution that would allow New York wineries to get their products on the shelves as soon as possible.

TTB to Approve Label Templates for Custom Wine Labels

Schumer’s support paid off. On August 9, 2011 it was announced in a press release on the senator’s website, “Effective immediately, TTB will not require resubmission of labels due to changes in graphics or artwork.”

The TTB’s agreement will allow approval of wine label “templates” which will avoid the necessity of sending labels with very slightly revised artwork back to the TTB for approval. “It’s time to uncork the full potential of our wine industry in New York, and this is a good first step in that direction,” Schumer stated.

What are your thoughts in the TTB’s efforts to speed up label approval times? Do you think this move will be effective?

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Plan on a 1-3 Month Delay for New Wine Label Approvals

Posted on by kginter

If you’re not in the wine industry, it may surprise you to know that every wine label in the USA, including the most artistic, colorful, and offbeat labels, has been approved by the US government. Unfortunately for wineries, the once routine process of having wine labels approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)is causing more headaches than consuming too much wine.

What’s the Process for Submitting a Wine Label for Approval in the USA?

Winery applicants can submit their wine labels for approval to the TTB either through the mail or online.

In the past, the average approval time for a wine label application was just 1 to 2 days for an online submission and one week by mail. Since the fall of 2010, however, the approval process has been bogged down to a one month approval time by online submission and up to three months if the label application was submitted by mail.

If your label and application are rejected, you must re-submit and the clock starts again on the waiting time.

Complaints from Wineries About Label Delays

An article from the Associated Press presents the delay that is currently going on in the wine industry. The AP reports that TTB staff has been reduced by a decade of cutbacks during a time when the wine industry has been booming.

The President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation says he has seen a slower pace in wine label approvals after staff “cutbacks” at the TTB were made. In a statement, Jim Trezise said “[The TTB] has been a responsive agency for the wine industry, but delays have gotten longer and that does affect the distribution and cash flow for the wineries.”

In 2008, the wine industry in the state of New York employed 40,000 workers and was responsible for $3.7 billion in economic impact.

The 300+ wineries in the state of New York believe they have been hit particularly hard by the recent label delays. Many NY wine makers have voiced their concerns on the current label approval situation. John Martini, co-owner of Anthony Road Wine Co. said that he submitted a label on May 12th of this year and did not receive an approval until June 15th – over one month of waiting before he could bring his wine to market. Some others have waited 75 to 90 days.

US Senator Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) has come to the defense of NY wineries and asked the TTB to speed up the label approval process.

How Big is the Current TTB Wine Label Approval Staff?

Reportedly, the TTB now staffs 13 employees who will handle approximately 130,000 labels submitted to them for approval this year – 10,000 labels per person, or more than 38 labels per day for every weekday in the year. The TTB website states that the average processing time for each wine label application is now 36 days.

Wine Processing Completions via

That’s a big difference between what wine industry experts said would once have taken one day if filed electronically and about one week when submitted by mail!

This graphic shows the correlation between wine label approvals and wine labels that are pending for the month of June. You can see the increase in label submissions for the spring and summer months, and the high number of pending labels.

Why Are TTB Cutbacks Causing Delays for the Wine Industry?

Although the TTB is federally funded, the funding goes to all areas of the TTB which includes – beer, wine, spirits, alcohol, tobacco, firearms and ammunition. This year the TTB was funded somewhere around $100 million and it is looking like it will be reduced for the coming year.

On top of possible decreases in funding, there is no charge for COLA (Certificate of Label Approval) applications and certification. Wendell Lee of the Wine Institute explained that there have been many attempts to obtain revenue for the TTB, and “at one point there was talk of assessing user fees for label approvals.”

Lee also suggested to Wines & Vines magazine that the TTB consider a less stringent and less detailed examination of labels and instead examine only the mandatory information as a way to help save time and complete more label approvals.

Custom Wine Labels Need to be Approved Too!

Customized wine labels are causing even more approval setbacks. Did you know that custom wine labels need to be sent in for approval by the TTB even if the label is use for only a few cases of wine? Labels containing custom “Happy Anniversary” or “Congratulations” sayings on them must all be approved before they can be sold.

The TTB’s View on the Issue

Label approval applications submitted to the TTB have more than doubled in the past ten years, according to TTB spokesman Tom Hogue in an interview with Wines & Vines.

Hogue continued, “And that doesn’t take into account any of the time going back and forth with an applicant to make sure labels they’ve submitted actually meet legal requirements.”

Hogue recently told Wines & Vines that, “Approving labels gets people in business, if we don’t get them out, or make sure people get their permits and pay their lawful taxes, everyone is not on a level playing surface. That doesn’t help business. It’s not good for the industry – especially if you have smaller guys with no margin for error. In the wine industry, you see a lot of that.”

Hogue provided some TTB staffing numbers but did not specify how many individuals act to approve labels. The US federal agency also employs 500 people nationwide as auditors, investigators, licensors, tax processors, among other positions.

“We’re not getting more resources,” Hogue said. With the staffing reductions at the TTB well-known within the industry, Hogue recommended that wineries plan to allow more time to receive label approvals. Hogue continued, “People need to take this into account in planning, and make their business decisions accordingly. We understand it has an impact on them; they have to understand what’s available in terms of resources.”

In a recent statement posted on its website, the TTB advised that “it is likely that COLA processing times will remain longer than you have experienced in the past and we strongly suggest that you build in extra time for receiving label approval from the TTB.”  TTB & Wine Industry: Where Should We Go From Here?

It’s obvious to me that some changes are needed to bring the capacity of the TTB in line with the needs of wine industry. What sort of changes do you think should be made? Less detailed label examinations, with the possibility of recalls if something is overlooked? Or possibly charging for COLAs (Certificate of Label Approvals) in order to generate more revenue so the TTB to employ more label inspectors? What do you think?


More information about TTB wine label approvals:

Can TTB Keep Up with the Wine Industry?Wines and Vines Magazine

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This New Year’s Eve, Read the Champagne Label – ahem – Sparkling Wine Label!

Posted on by kginter

At midnight on December 31st each and every year, people around the world make a toast to the New Year with some sort of bubbly in hand. Yes, I said bubbly.

Most of us refer to bubbly as “Champagne” out of habit, but what a lot of us don’t notice is that the label doesn’t always say “Champagne.” So let me explain what to look for on the bottle labels of the sparkling wine you may be enjoying this Friday night!

Exactly what is “Champagne”?

I am guilty of referring to almost every type of bubbly as Champagne, most likely because it is the most commonly known name. Last week at a Holiday Yankee Swap I happened to pick a bottle of what I assumed was Champagne. Without looking at the label, I referred to it as Champagne and a co-worker of mine asked me if it was really Champagne.

Label on the Front of a Bottle of French Champagne

He reminded me that Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France and that what I most likely had was some other type of bubbly.  Champagne is a carbonated (sparkling) French wine that comes strictly from the Champagne region of France. It is made from three specific types of grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, and its carbonation is produced by in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine.

My co-worker  told me to check the bottle label, and … he was right, it was sparkling wine from Sonoma, California. (See, I’m learning too!)

The Misuse of the Term “Champagne”

The Champagne houses of France are troubled by the many sparkling wine producers who print bottle labels that bear the name “Champagne,” when in fact the sparkling wines are not produced in the Champagne region of France. They take the traditions of Champagne production seriously and do not take kindly to their traditions being misrepresented, much less mislabeled.

France and the European Union have since developed a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label to protect its unique food and beverage traditions. Protected Designation of Origin labeled items declare that food must be produced entirely in a specific region, and in a particular way. They believe that this official champagne label seal will make certain that their longstanding traditions will be preserved and not confused with other sparkling wines.

Champagne is French, Prosecco is Italian

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine made from Glera grapes grown in the Valdobbiadene/Conegliano region of Italy. Prosecco is fermented in stainless steel tanks, a less expensive type of fermentation process.

Paris Hilton & The Misuse of the Term “Prosecco”Image Copyright

The word “Prosecco” is considered a copyright to Italians and they take the use of it on a label very seriously. Prosecco grapes are almost all grown in Italy, but wine growers are now growing Prosecco grapes all over the world.

In 2008, Paris Hilton upset Italian winegrowers when she launched “Rich Prosecco,” a sparkling wine served from a can. Rich Prosecco brand misused the label term Prosecco by placing its sparkling wine in aluminum cans as well as by adding fruit juice to it – which is far from the way Prosecco is traditionally made.

To prevent Italy’s prized Prosecco from being made and marketed outside of Italy, the Italians pled their case to Italian legislators and then European legislators stating that Prosecco belonged to Italy and that no one else could use the term Prosecco on a wine label.

In 2009, the EU declared that sparkling wine labeled as “Prosecco” can only contain grapes grown in the Valdobbiadene/Conegliano region of Italy and must also be approved by the Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). The DOC is the Italian model of the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin. The DOC requires that food products produced in specific regions be labeled as so and follow the defined methods of quality standards within that region – much like that of the PDO.

What About California “Champagne”?

California sparkling wines have been influenced by foreign production methods with the introduction of the practice of using the  traditional French champagne  grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

The sparkling wine industry in California has grown significantly and now Champagne house investors from France’s Champagne region have set up shop in California by opening their own wineries and producing champagnes under American labels. Although there is a lot of foreign influence in American sparkling wine production, American wineries use different wine making techniques that follow US wine making standards. These American techniques are enough to significantly change the taste of the wine, making a large difference in champagnes.

Labeling of CLabel on the Front of a Bottle of California Champagnealifornia Champagnes

US wine labeling regulations allow the use of the term Champagne on a sparkling wine label as long as there is an appellation of the actual place of origin next to that name to let consumers know it is California Champagne and not champagne from France’s Champagne region.

Counterfeit Champagne Labels?

Although California Champagne labels are perfectly legal in the US, once they are exported to Europe they are considered counterfeit products. European Union trade lawyers believe that use of the term “Champagne” on the labels of sparkling wines other than those produced in the Champagne region of France are an abuse of protected label-of-origin terminology. If American champagne products are found by Customs during inspections, they are confiscated. However, the EU cannot enforce “counterfeit” champagne labels outside of Customs.

Different Styles of Champagne & the Terms You See on Champagne Labels

To go along with bubbly from different places there are also different styles. Here is a quick breakdown of those not-so-easily understood words you’ll find on champagne labels:

  • Brut – Champagnes containing less than 15 grams of sugar per litre
  • Brut Natural – Also known as Brut Zéro, this style contains less than 3 grams of sugar per litre
  • Extra Brut – A very dry wine, in which the sugar content is less than 6 grams of sugar per litre
  • Extra-Sec – Also known as Extra Dry, this style contains 12 to 20 grams of sugar per litre
  • Demi-Sec – Most champagne houses produce this style champagne, ideal for drinking with desserts. The sugar content is between 35 and 50 grams per litre.
  • Doux – Extremely rare, intensely sweet style containing 50+  grams of sugar per litre
  • Sec – Contains 17 to 35 grams of sugar per litre

So there you have it, the differences you’ll find on the labels of bottles of Champagne, Prosecco, Sparkling Wine, California Champagne… whichever one you choose, raise your glass and say cheers to a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Useful Bubbly & Champagne Label Resources:

Good Housekeeping’s Top Bottles of Cheap Bubbly for NYE 2010

How to Read the Front of a French Champagne Label

Print Your Own Wine Labels with a QuickLabel printer

Let Us Print Your Wine Labels for You


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