How to add a barcode to hot sauce bottles


Selling hot sauce is an easy way to break into the retail food market. The cost to produce and store the product is cheap and the market is hot. There is a lot of opportunities to make a unique hot sauce with just a few ingredients. If you want to expand sales into retail and online stores you will need to get a barcode for your product.

To obtain a barcode you will need a company name, a product name, and other business information such as address and phone number. A barcode can be purchased for $30.00 for a single product but multiple bar codes will be needed for the same product available in different sizes. Barcodes are needed to identify product brands, display pricing when scanned, and for tracking product inventory. Most retailers will require a barcode on the product label.

Where do I get a bar code for my hot sauce?

A UPC Barcode (Universal Product Code) can be obtained from GS1 US and they have an easy-to-use website that includes an estimator for the number of labels you will need if you have multiple products. For example, you make a hot sauce from one recipe, but the product comes in three different sizes. You will need three different bar codes for each of these products and this will increase costs. Apply for a barcode here.

UPC barcodes are not a random set of lines and numbers but are a selection of lines and codes to produce data when scanned. They are used to display specific product data such as the name of the product, the price, and the size. GS1 US is the authority that sets the barcode standards for international commerce as well as e-commerce.

What do I need to get a bar code?

To get a bar code you need a company name, a brand name, and a product description. You will also need to provide company information such as phone number, address, and email contact so be prepared with this information when you apply.

Have your credit card information on hand. Address, phone number, and a credit card are the common exchange of information for online purchases but don’t scramble at the last minute with company name, brand name, and product description.

Provide a company name, brand name, and product description

Before you click any of the links below to apply for a bar code for your latest hot sauce creation, have your information such as company name, brand name, and product description pre-selected. If you have gotten to the point of applying for a bar code then you must already have a great tasting sauce, some assimilation of a company, and a location where it is being manufactured. Don’t scratch your head at the moment wondering what you are going to call your sauce because this information cannot be changed…you will have to create another new bar code.

Provide a company name

This is the legal name of your business such as a DBA, LLC, or Sole Proprietorship, not the name of your hot sauce or website. A domain name is the online presence of the company and is often different than the company name. A sole proprietorship is the easiest and most common type of business and you can always migrate to a DBA or LLC.

You can use your name as the company name and do business as a sole proprietorship but not many companies associate their name with their brand of hot sauce. An EIN, DBA, or LLC to protect your business but you don’t need one to obtain a bar code for your hot sauce.

Your product needs a brand name

The brand name is the name that stands out on the product label and is used to identify the product or product line. This is information that will be displayed when your hot sauce is scanned. An example of this would be Franks RedHot manufactured by McCormick and Co. Franks would be the brand name and is globally recognized as a great-tasting hot sauce.

The brand name can be a unique and catchy title used to market your hot sauce. Extravagant and humorous names are used all the time as hot sauce brand names. This cannot be changed once you have a bar code so if your brand does, you will need to purchase another bar code.

Complete a product description

You do not need a list of the ingredient of your hot sauce to get a bar code. That is included on the nutritional label. You will however need to describe the sauce as being hot, mild, or medium and/or a brief description that includes what it is made with. Example: A medium heat jalapeno and tomato salsa.

You should obtain a DBA or LLC to conduct business but you don’t need one. The idea of obtaining a bar code is to sell hot sauce. A Sole Proprietorship will be fine. Don’t decide on a company name, brand name, and product name at the spur of the moment. A sole proprietorship does not need to register with the state to conduct business. Many people in the hot sauce business begin with a sole proprietorship and obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) or use their social security number for tax purposes. Apply for an EIN here.

Additional information

You will need to provide additional information as well, some personal and some specific to your product. You will be able to add or control the information that is displayed when your product is scanned but changing company information may be difficult, especially if you have a company prefix.

You will need to provide some personal information

These will be the lines of communication. This does not need to be a business location but needs to be a legal address. This information can be business or personal but it will be time-consuming and burdensome to continually change it.

How much does it cost to get a bar code?

A barcode costs $30.00 for each product. This pricing will change as you purchase multiple labels but there is no renewal fee for the bar code. Purchase a single barcode here from GS1 US. These costs will increase with every new product or every variation of a product, including size. The savings are only noticed after purchasing 10 or more bar codes.

I just need a few bar codes

GS1 US GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)is a low-cost way of launching a new product. GTIN (pronounced G – Tin) are the numbers below the vertical lines of a bar code. A UPC is the lines above the numbers. The GTIN along with the UPC bar code can be used anywhere in the world to display product information when scanned.

I need multiple bar codes

If you plan on launching multiple products then a GS1 Company Prefix will save you much more money. The annual cost for a company prefix is $250.00 for 10 barcodes. Purchasing 10 barcodes with just the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) would be $300.00.

GS1 Company Prefix is more cost-effective for a company that has multiple products. It is not unusual for a hot sauce company to have many similar products listed under one brand or several sizes of the same product available. If your hot sauce comes in three sizes 5 oz, 10 oz, and 12 oz, then you need three bar codes for the same product, not one.

The cost savings would increase significantly upon purchasing hundreds or thousands of bar codes. For example: purchasing 100,000 barcodes would bring the cost down to just over $.10 each. However, the annual cost of maintaining the company prefix increases.

Is the bar code created for me or do I need to create it?

The the spacing of the lines and spaces is done for you so there is no design work needed. The barcode can be obtained immediately but will take 24 – 48 hours before it becomes active. GS1 US suggests that you do not alter the barcode after purchase such as adding color or cropping, but you can do some adjustment before purchase.

Can I change the information of the bar code?

You can certainly add information about your product through the GS1 US Data Hub but shouldn’t alter the information such as ingredients. If your product changes in any way by adding or improving, a new bar code will need to be purchased.

What exactly does a barcode do?

A barcode is a pattern of elements that represent characters that a machine can read. The barcode is used by retailers to display product information when it is scanned. A UPC is universally recognized and functions throughout the world.

Why do I need a bar code for my hot sauce?

You only need a barcode if you plan on selling hot sauce on a national or international level. Local retailers may not require one and if you plan on selling at farmers markets or your own retail store you shouldn’t need one there either. Are you ready to start selling hot sauce?…download the checklist here!

These types of venues are a great opportunity to introduce a new product line without investing hundreds of dollars in marketing, fancy packaging, and multiple bar codes. However, it does give the hot sauce a professional and polished appearance.

This is another step toward your hot sauce having a professional and marketable appearance from the outside in. Many manufacturers include the UPC along with the nutritional label and the PDL in one label because a hot sauce label is so small.

An online retailer like Amazon and many retailers globally will also require a product UPC barcode as part of the packaging label if you plan on selling through these portals. Amazon represents one-third of all e-commerce and is an excellent opportunity to sell hot sauce.

Is a bar code part of the Product Label Display?

A bar code is separate from a product label display and is usually on the back of a hot sauce bottle either horizontally or vertically depending on the size of the bottle. It will be below or next to or part of the nutritional label as one applied label. A Product Display Label (PDL) is the main label that shows the name of the product, a logo, and other specific information.

Typically the bar code, PDL, and nutritional label are all part of one physical label as it is attached to a bottle of hot sauce. This makes it easier for print and manufacturing. Most product labeling companies can combine the bar code, PDL, and nutritional information into one product label that will fit your hot sauce bottles.

Does the FDA regulate bar codes?

The FDA does not require, regulate or have bar code requirements for product labels on hot sauce or other food related products. They do require a nutritional label, ingredient list, weight, manufacturer’s address, and product display label.

Print black lines on white spaces

UPC bar codes are meant to be scanned so that computer systems can quickly display data. Don’t print the bar code in red because a scanner will not be able to read them. Other colors will not work as well as black either. The best colors for a bar code are black lines with a white background. However, there are other colors available that may blend in with your product label.

Size matters

It is not unusual for hot sauce to be available in 5 oz or even 3 oz bottles. Take this into consideration when planning the label of such a small bottle. The PDL and nutritional label can be minimized but the bar code needs to remain the same size and shouldn’t be altered.

Don’t change the size of the bar code

Changing the size of the bar code will also interfere with its ability to be scanned properly. GS1 US will also tell you not to truncate it or alter it in any way. This will interfere with the quick scan ability of a UPC bar code.  

What else does a bar code do?

A bar code will give your product a unique identification, not like any other product. This unique identifying UPC can be listed in search engines so your product can be displayed through a web search. This can then lead consumers to where it can be purchased…bet ya didn’t know that.

What if the pricing of my hot sauce goes up?

If any part of your hot sauce alters, changes, or differs from the product that was original to the bar code, then you will need a new one. Take this into consideration if your sauce becomes “new and improved” or if there are other marketing reasons for changing your original recipe.

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