Every item you purchase contains a manufacturer bar code somewhere on the package. This code, also known as a Universal Product Code, provides information about both the product and the manufacturer of the product.
The manufacturer of any product can be identified by the first six digits of its bar code.
When the bar code of an item is scanned during check out or before shipping, the scanner provides the retailer information on what the item is, its current price and if the store needs to restock it. Each bar code also includes a unique company identification number, called a Global Standards One Company Prefix, that identifies the item’s manufacturer.
The bottom of a bar code includes a series of numbers. The first six digits are a company’s unique identification number, allowing it to be recognized and used by vendors around the world. The remaining digits specifically identify the product to create a Global Trade Item Number. This entire number, which can be eight, 12, 13 or 14 digits long, typically identifies a manufacturer.
UPCs are used by manufacturers in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Manufacturers in Europe and other areas around the world refer to their bar codes as International Article Numbers. Book manufacturers use the International Standard Book Number bar code format.
When an item is scanned at the retailer, or when you use a bar code scanner on your phone, the name of the manufacturer will automatically appear. In the absence of a scanner, you can visit the retailer's website or a large online marketplace like Amazon to find the item and determine its manufacturer.
By visiting the GS1 Company Database, you can verify the manufacturer of a product and look up the company’s information. All you need to do is enter the entire GTIN found on the bar code to learn the manufacturer’s name and address. GS1 is a nonprofit that issues unique identification numbers to companies, so its database is always up to date.
You can also visit the online UPC Database and enter a product’s GTIN. This website provides the name of the manufacturer, the size or weight of the product and the issuing country.
If you need to look up a large number of bar codes to identify multiple manufacturers, you can visit the website bar code Lookup. It takes a list of bar codes, looks them all up and sends you a file with the manufacturer, product description and photos.