CAMEROON – Sources from the Ministry of Commerce and the Standards and Quality Agency (ANOR) in Cameroon have disclosed that some local products bear unreliable barcodes.
The reliability of these unique identifiers, essential for product traceability and international standardization, is under scrutiny as various sources suggest diverse methods of barcode generation among local retailers and suppliers.
Barcodes, the 13-digit unique identifiers facilitating seamless product tracking and pricing, have become a staple for products entering supermarket shelves in Cameroon and abroad.
However, the methods of barcode generation vary, with some retailers reportedly creating their own codes, while others rely on suppliers who engage graphic designers for this purpose.
According to Fabris Ekeu, the General Manager of GS1 Cameroon, a local subsidiary of GS1 International, independently generated codes lack essential traceability features.
GS1 Cameroon, operating with the “617” country code assigned to Cameroon, emphasizes the significance of interoperable traceability to broaden the reach of local products beyond geographical boundaries.
Fabris Ekeu highlights that GS1 Cameroun has generated over 10,000 barcodes in the past four years, enabling traceability and reliability for local products on the global stage.
He stresses the importance of adhering to international standards, emphasizing the superiority of the “617” code over locally generated barcodes designed exclusively for specific supermarkets.
Carine Andela, the promoter of the “Made in Cameroon” concept, urges local producers to comply with standards, noting that over 300 members of her association have already aligned with GS1 Cameroon’s standards.
Major retailers like Carrefour prioritize standardized coding, and CFAO Retail Cameroon, the owner of Carrefour supermarkets, emphasizes adherence to state-mandated standards. The group redirects suppliers without barcodes to GS1 Cameroon, maintaining a database to verify barcode authenticity.
Despite these barcode challenges, local products account for 40% of Carrefour’s sales in Cameroon, reflecting the growth and acceptance of “Made in Cameroon” goods.
Guillaume Tanne, the Chief Financial Officer of CFAO Retail Cameroon, highlights the increasing contribution of local products to Carrefour’s sales, demonstrating consumer interest and market integration.
As the barcode reliability issue surfaces, the collaboration between industry stakeholders and adherence to international standards emerge as crucial factors in ensuring the trustworthiness of local products in Cameroon’s marketplace.