Small food producers looking to grow their brand and product can earn shelf space in retail stores and achieve success via online platforms, like Amazon, with the right growth strategy and action plan. Most retail partners require products to be marked with barcodes to uniquely identify their items for commerce –but it’s important to start off with the “right” barcode to support your growth.

Barcodes and the data within allow distributors and retailers to scan product data, track movement throughout the supply chain, and facilitate sales at checkout.

The first order of business is to make sure the barcode(s) you purchase for your products are authentic and uniquely identify your brand. Securing authentic Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) from GS1 US, which are then embedded into UPC barcodes, ensures that products are linked to a specific brand. Third party barcodes not sourced from GS1 will identify another company as the brand owner and since retailers and marketplaces, like Amazon, validate that  the brand matches the product, sellers run the risk of having their listings hidden or the need to relabel their products. Securing these legitimate barcodes also aids sellers in cases where their online listing is hijacked.

Third-party barcodes delay product acceptance

Lin Jiang, founder and CEO of Yishi Foods, secured funding early in her startup journey, but she inadvertently purchased third-party barcodes for her products. This delayed her products’ retail acceptance because the codes were tied to other brand owners – causing supply chain confusion and massive headaches.

“I bought barcodes from another third-party website which caused challenges when we began working with new distributors and new stores. They don’t allow recycled barcodes. We realized it's just not the right way to buy barcodes. My co-founder has some industrial purchasing experience and he knew GS1 already. We went to the website and licensed a 100-capacity to make sure we would be covered as our product line grew.” Since Lin began leveraging GS1 barcodes for her products, the supply chain issues resolved, and her products now scan with no issue at every retailer that carries her products.

Groundwork for growth

In its 11th year of operation, small confectionary Dana’s Bakery is primarily a direct-to-consumer business shipping treats nationwide or selling via storefront. That’s by design, as owner Dana Pollock is not ready to take on a major supply chain just yet. But as she’s branched out to sell certain products on Amazon, she’s leveraged standards from GS1 to make sure her products will process in Amazon’s system as needed, and also scan at other retailers when she reaches that point.

Dana elaborates, “Having a GS1 barcode makes us feel official, especially since we are going to be looking to get our products on store shelves. I’m selective about which products I need to barcode, too. But if I want to mass produce for retail, it means that we’re ready and getting that started was a special moment for our business.”

“I think that for a small business, it's very daunting to have to set and navigate things like supply chain management. But there are many resources out there to help you if you need help. And all you need to do is ask. That’s how I was able to find GS1 US and other resources like the National Small Business Alliance to help me get going.”

Preparing for upcoming regulation

If you’re like Yishi Foods, Dana’s Bakery or any other culinary operation, and you handle certain foods on the FDA’s Food Traceability List (FTL), which includes items like eggs, you’re also going to need to pay attention to The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Dood Safety Modernization Act Rule 204 (FSMA 204). FSMA 204 requires increased data collection and record keeping for companies producing or handling those high-risk foods on the FTL.

FSMA 204 aims to reduce foodborne illness outbreaks by rapidly identifying and eliminating contaminated products from the supply chain. It is focused on improving traceability for the food categories that are most commonly associated with outbreaks in the U.S.

Companies have two years to build the data and infrastructure needed to meet the FDA’s compliance deadline of January 20, 2026 – if your organization handles foods on the list, now is the time to start preparing. Leveraging GS1 Standards, like UPC barcodes, can help with this mandated, heightened level of supply chain visibility.

Ready, set, go

Launching a home-grown product on a wider scale via retail stores and online e-commerce platforms involves plenty of production, business and sales considerations. And with more U.S. FDA regulation pending, it’s important to think about identifying and labeling your products the right way. Don’t leave your product identification to chance. For information about obtaining legitimate barcodes meeting GS1 Standards for interoperability, please visit