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Behind the code

QR codes help ensure transparency and better control over the production process and supply chain.

QR codes printed on Languiru’s milk packages allow consumers to learn more about how their milk products were produced, including the products’ journey through the supply chain. Photo courtesy of SIG Combibloc.
QR codes printed on Languiru’s milk packages allow consumers to learn more about how their milk products were produced, including the products’ journey through the supply chain. Photo courtesy of SIG Combibloc.

QR codes are making a comeback — at least they are at SIG Combibloc, a manufacturer of aseptic carton packaging systems for the food and beverage industry. The company recently launched a digital solution that features those black and white pixelated boxes on its packaging to help ensure transparency of quality and food safety, improve control over the production process and create personalized digital marketing promotions.

SIG Combibloc introduced the QR code project in July when it partnered with Languiru, the second largest agricultural cooperative in Rio Grande do Sul, which is located in the southern region of Brazil. To strengthen the perception of quality with its customers, Languiru began using the QR codes for its new dairy line called Qualidade do início ao Fim (Quality from Beginning to End).

“The launch of this new digital platform is our solution to three mega trends dictated by consumers,” says Ricardo Rodriguez, president and general manager of SIG Combibloc Americas. “Connectivity: consumers are increasingly aware and want to receive information anywhere at any time; authenticity and trust through total transparency of quality information, food safety and procedures to prevent fraud; and finally, natural products with certificate of origin and free of chemicals, genetically modified crops, among others.”

Using SIG’s integrated digital platform, Languiru generates about 12,000 QR codes per hour. It prints an individual and unique QR code for each milk product in the Qualidade do início ao Fim line at the time of production. That allows the company to monitor its quality processes from the collection of raw material to the milk’s industrialization and commercialization on a single platform. It also provides real-time information that can help the factory managers gain insight into how they can better optimize the production process and logistics.

Each shipping box also receives a unique QR code, while the pallets are identified by a bar code. This control system allows Languiru to maintain operational traceability from the farm to the point of sale. It can locate each package at any point in the value chain immediately, which makes it easy for Languiru to conduct a quality crosscheck or recall, if necessary.

“We have tremendous track and trace technology with surgical precision,” Rodriguez says. “Languiru can identify exactly where every package is exactly in the supply chain. So we’re not talking just about identification of a group of packages or identification of pallets. We are talking about the capacity to find an individual package along the supply chain in minutes.”

Consumers also get a chance to interact with the QR codes. They can use their smartphones to scan the QR codes, which will automatically take them to Languiru’s website. Every consumer can get information about his or her specific milk product and the path it traveled through the quality-assurance process and supply chain, such as when it was pasteurized and delivered to the retailer.

The QR codes also provide the opportunity to customize digital marketing promotions. For example, a marketing campaign could be developed for a specific chain of supermarkets or for a particular region. For this function, SIG has developed an application that can develop databases for marketing and sales analysis.

SIG plans to export and use this QR code technology in the 40 countries where it operates.


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