When a product is composed of multiple sub-units, we call those sub-units “components.” Products with components may contain various pieces to a set, like a table and chairs – or may be a multipack of different elements, like a box of multi-flavored yogurt with different ingredients. With the changes introduced with Major Release 3, information such as ingredients, nutritional information or requirements for each component of a GTIN can be provided using a standard format.
Various ingredients in the same container
Components functionality can be used for various business transactions. For example: a yogurt multi-pack containing three different flavors of yogurt. The multi-pack is the Each GTIN and the Consumer Unit, and let’s say this particular type of yogurt is always sold in 24-tub multi-packs. The complexity comes with the fact that the three flavors have different ingredients and nutritional panels. Using the components function, the various ingredients and nutrition facts can now be described accurately and completely under the multi-pack GTIN, with their respective ingredients listed separately.
Another example in which the components function is perfectly suited is when two different products, with two different ingredient sets (and protocols for hazardous waste management) are contained into one package for sale to the consumer. For example, a “Rad” pack which contains both “Double Control” insecticide and “Egg Stoppers.”
Less susceptibility to errors
In addition, the “Components” feature provides an additional advantage in the case of preparing data for satisfying the requirements of EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 (LMIV – European food information for consumers). For Mixed and Variety packs, previously the recommendation was to put the ingredient details in a text box and separate the individual ingredients with a delimiter (“#”).
Using this method, it was important to ensure that the respective ingredient list would be preceded by the name of the component. Nutritional information could be specified either for the entire article, using averages, or repeated for each component. In the latter case the assignment would be done through an unstructured text field (cf. GS1 Europe, GDSN Implementation Guidelines for EU regulation 1169/2011 Mandatory Information, V1.0 – March 2014 page 11-12). These processes had an inherent lack of clarity and certainty about how each type of data was to be encoded, and there was a much greater potential for user error.
In May 2016, with the capabilities introduced with MjR3, this complex, error-prone and often incorrect solution will become obsolete. All components of the mixed products can now be described in a consolidated format and separated from each other using distinct data fields. Moreover, this higher level of specificity helps to raise the quality of specific data and the capacity of the GDSN overall to handle high-quality, complex data.
As the examples illustrate, the components function is only required for certain use cases: for those products which differ based on their constituent components. With most products, this functionality isn’t relevant. For this reason, not all the data elements that describe an article can be implemented as component information, only some attributes. Major Release 3 helpfully restricts and validates which attributes and valid values may be used to describe a component. Accordingly, only the following attributes can be used at the component level:
- Allergen Information
- Chemical Regulation Information
- Certification Information
- Diet Information
- Farming Processing Information
- Food and Beverage Ingredient
- Food and Beverage Serving Preparation Instructions
- Food and Beverage Information Properties
- Healthcare Item Information
- Marketing information
- Nonfood Ingredient
- Nutritional Information
- Material Safety Data Sheet
- Packaging Information
- Place of Activity
- Referenced File Detail
- Regulated Trade Item
- Trade Item Color
- Trade Item Description
- Trade Item Disposal Information
- Trade Item Lifespan
- Trade Item Measurements
- Trade Item Size
Discussions are still ongoing about whether additional modules will be required to enable additional attribute sets with components functionality in the future. Other modules may still be approved for this new feature. In any event, one thing is clear: multi-component products have a clear use case and a specialized solution with Major Release 3.