Since the world is working ever-closer together, businesses have to adapt in many ways. Rapid evolution of roles within the value chain, shifting demand patterns, new channels of distribution, and increased service expectations from customers raise the need for improved business solutions.


In 1970 the Ad Hoc Committee on a Uniform Grocery Product Code convenes for the first time and agrees to jointly pursue a uniform grocery product identification code.


It all started in 1974, when manufacturers and distributors of 12 European countries formed an ad-hoc council. Its brief was to examine the possibility of developing an uniform and standard numbering system for Europe, similar to the UPC system already in operation in the USA. As a result, a UPC compatible system called “European Article Numbering” was created.


The actual EAN association was formed in February 1977. The new body was set up as a not-for-profit international association under Belgian law with a Brussels based Head Office. Its aim was and still is the development of a set of standards enabling the efficient management of global, multi-industry supply chains by uniquely identifying products, shipping units, assets, locations and services. It facilitates electronic commerce processes including full tracking and traceability.


In 2002 the UCC joins EAN International as a member organization representing North American companies, formally solidifying global reach of the EAN.UCC System.


The organization now has the all the building blocks in place to achieve its principal goal: to become respected as THE leader in global, open multi-sectoral standards.


To achieve this aim, the General Assembly agreed to change the name of EAN International to GS1. The change of name fully reflects the global reach of the organization.


The new name stands for:


Global Standards

Global Solutions

Global Services

Which means:


One world

One global language of business

Today GS1 has 111 Member Organisations representing 110 countries. These organisations provide full support and information to their local member companies. Over one million member companies benefit from using the GS1 system.