Variable weight items

  • There are various ways of identifying and encoding items of variable weight.  

  • Please note: from 2023 onwards, national numbers will no longer be assigned for variable weight items. 

  • Secondary packaging must be labelled with a GS1-128 barcode. 

  • Please refer to the manuals for more information

Verpakt vlees met GS1 DataMatrix barcode

For encoding variable weight items,  a distinction is made between consumer units that are scanned at the checkout and secondary packaging that does not pass through the checkout. 

4 ways of encoding consumer units

Consumer units of variable weight can be encoded in the following ways: 

1) GS1 DataMatrix with GTIN

What information do you encode in a GS1 DataMatrix for variable weight items

  • A GTIN-13, preceded by a meaningless 0; this is mandatory 

  • The net weight; this is mandatory 

  • Additional information such as lot number or expiry date; this is optional.

A GS1 DataMatrix is a 2-dimensional (2D) barcode. It can only be scanned with image-based scanners. Several retailers in Belgium have already adapted their point-of-sale scanning systems or will do so soon. Discuss with your chain partners whether 2D barcodes are already supported in your chain. 

2) GS1 DataBar Expanded (Stacked) with GTIN

What information do you encode in a GS1 DataBar Expanded (Stacked) for variable weight items? 

  • A GTIN-13, preceded by a meaningless 0; this is mandatory 
  • The net weight; this is mandatory 
  • Additional information such as lot number or expiry date; this is optional 

3) EAN-13 barcode with an internal number

Is the item weighed or packaged by the retailer? In that case, the retailer creates an internal number for the product themselves. This internal number is encoded in an EAN-13 barcode

4) EAN-13 barcode with a national number

Is the item: 

  • weighed or packaged by the supplier 
  • and sold on the Belgian-Luxembourgish market? 

Then the supplier can request a national number from GS1 Belgium & Luxembourg. This national number is then encoded in an EAN-13 barcode. 

Please note: from 2023 onwards, GS1 Belgilux will no longer issue national numbers for items by weight at the checkout! 

From 1 January 2023, you will no longer be able to apply for national numbers for variable weight itemssold on the Belgian/Luxembourgish market. From then on, suppliers must identify variable weight items with a GTIN, encoded in a GS1 DataMatrix or GS1 DataBar. 

What about secondary packaging? 

Secondary packaging of variable weight items which are not scanned at the checkout are labelled with a GS1-128-barcode

What information do you encode in the GS1-128 barcode? 

  • A GTIN-14 with a 9 as the first digit; this is mandatory 

  • The net weight; this is mandatory 

  • Additional information, such as the lot number; this is optional 

If various layers of secondary packaging are provided for a commercial unit of variable weight, each of these layers of secondary packaging must have a unique GTIN-14 that starts with a 9.