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Cash registers will be required to monitor the expiration dates of products: why is this necessary and what products will it affect?

Cash registers in retail chains will be forced to catch expired products.

Cash registers in retail chains will be forced to catch expired products.

Photo: Ivan MAKEEV

Cash registers in retail chains will be “forced” to catch expired products and other goods that, if strictly by law, should not reach the buyer. The system was recently tested in one of the chain stores in Moscow by an entire delegation of government officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff of the Government Alexey Uvarov and Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Ekaterina Priezzheva. We were satisfied: it works! We tried to figure out what kind of happiness is supposed to fall on the consumer and when it will become possible.

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

In Russia, since 2019, a product labeling system has been gradually introduced. A special QR code is applied to the product. Using the “Honest Sign” system, it allows you to track the path of goods from the manufacturer to the counter. And at every stage, make sure that nothing illegal is happening with this product.

Currently the following are labeled: dairy products, bottled water, medicines, tobacco, beer, shoes, light industrial products, fur coats, tires, perfumes, cameras. An experiment on caviar marking is being conducted.

Until now, the system has served rather to improve tax collection: all the “leftist” schemes with those goods that are subject to labeling immediately became obvious. The consumer could also obtain information about the product by scanning the code with his smartphone. But while walking in the store, analyzing the information received and understanding what it all means is not so easy; few heroes are capable of this.

Now they want to “tweak” the system so that the consumer can benefit from it without doing anything at all. The cash desk will do everything. The software on it is configured in such a way that in certain cases the cash register simply blocks the sale of goods – the cashier receives a warning and cannot process the receipt.

WHAT “BAN” ARE WE SAVED FROM?

These are, first of all, expired and falsified (such as milk with the notorious palm oil – without indicating vegetable fats in the composition) products that somehow ended up on the counter. As explained by the Center for the Development of Advanced Technologies (CRPT) – this is the operator of the “Honest Sign” system – bona fide retail chains have previously taken all measures to ensure that such products do not exist on their shelves. But until now it was impossible to exclude the “human factor”, especially at high speeds. That is, that some tired employee of the sales floor will not remove the expiring product from the shelf in time.

“The use of checkout mechanisms at the checkout completely eliminates the serious risk to the reputation of trading organizations and gives customers confidence that they are completely protected from purchasing a low-quality product,” says Revaz Yusupov, Deputy General Director of the CRPT.

An important point: unfortunately, the cash register can only catch “overdue” items in this way from those goods that are subject to labeling. That is, it does not recognize stale sausage – meat and sausage products are not marked in the “Honest Sign” system. But expired dairy products will not pass checkout at the checkout.

ARE “STOP CHECKS” ALREADY WORKING?

So far, the system has been tested as a voluntary experiment, which took place from February 1, 2023 to August 1, 2023 – for certain types of dairy products, including those intended for children, bottled drinking and mineral water, beer and some low-alcohol drinks, and tobacco products. As the press service of the CRPT reported, more than 30 federal and regional retail chains, as well as some non-chain stores, joined the experiment. And as a result, sales of all kinds of “bad stuff”, including expired products, decreased by a quarter throughout the country (for those product categories that are tracked in the “Honest Sign”). It is expected that such sales could drop to zero for labeled products as the system expands to all stores.

For now, the technology continues to be used voluntarily and is being further developed. It is important that the system works flawlessly everywhere, and not in the same way as we have already seen when introducing similar innovations – with cursing at the cashier, whose “something is stuck”, and dissatisfaction with the queue.

A draft resolution has been prepared, but has not yet been adopted, according to which such a system will be introduced without fail, but in stages, taking into account the characteristics of different products and technical readiness. The first phase could begin this spring.

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