Farming, food and QR Codes

One of the common misconceptions about QR Codes is that their natural partnership is with high tech gadgets and aspirational products. The simple truth is that QR Codes and smart phones are just other ways for customers to engage with your business.

One sphere that has a lot to gain from QR Codes is the food production and farming sector. Famers can create a QR Code and open a door to their customers, welcoming them into an added dimension of the product they are buying and at the same time create customer loyalty. Famers can easily use a QR Code generator to gain a code that can be used in almost any creative way, such as the Canadian farmer who created the world’s largest QR code http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2012/09/11/canadian-farm-builds-worlds-largest-qr-code/, or the English farmer who created the world’s strangest QR code (on the side of a cow!) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2173488/Digital-Daisy-Cows-hi-tech-makeover-milk-really-comes-from.html.

The Penn State University Ice Cream factory has demonstrated an excellent example of a practical use of QR Codes. Lines at their shop would often snake around the block, so they gave their waiting customers something to do. QR Codes were  displayed. By using the smart phones no doubt already been pulled out to pass the time, waiting customers were linked to a YouTube video that took them on the journey of Penn State Ice Cream “from cow to cone” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxYJHrvdLyU.

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This kind of engagement is particularly important for food producers because it shows customers what is unique about their product. It says “Sure, you can get any old ice cream any old shop, but this is what makes Penn State Ice Cream so special that you’ll keep coming back.”

What is it that makes a food product special? It could be that the crop is farmed in a special way; or it could be that you can ‘meet’ the charming farmer and be taken on a virtual tour of the farm. It could be that an exotic traditional method is used, or that a high tech scientific process ensures a high quality product. It could even be a combination of all of the above!

The knitwear company Pure American Naturals does just this by Generating QR Codes and placing one on each garment, which when scanned provides an assurance of purity and quality by inviting you to inspect the origin of each garment, from the farm to the spinner to the store http://pureamericannaturals.com/fashion-design/farm-to-fashion-traceability/.

Be it a video, a blog, or a photo sharing site, there are many online tools that can show consumers ‘behind the scenes’ of a food product and a QR is an easy link to all of them. The best thing about a QR code is that it can be displayed at a farmer’s market or cellar door as easily as on a garment label.

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