A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a code printed on retail product packages to help with their identification. It is divided into two parts – a machine-readable barcode (a unique combination of bars), and a unique set of 12 numbers underneath it.
A UPC barcode is scanned to identify the product and its features, for example, the brand name, color, size, flavor, and so on. Using this code speeds up the checkout process at grocery stores. Also, UPCs help keep track of items in warehouses.
In order to acquire a 12-digit code for its product, a company needs to submit a request to the Global Standard 1 (GS1), a nonprofit group that standardizes tracking inventory and helps to categorize retailers by location. The organization operates in the US, while goods from Europe and other regions often have codes that are different from UPC.