food marketing qr code

Placing the QR Code in wine and food products: The complete guide [2023]

Let’s look together at where to put the QR Code on the agrifood product, a key decision that determines who will see our code and at what point in the shopping experience.

Once we have chosen the destination of our QR code in our last blog post, all we have to do is decide where to place it.

We will now look at the differences between the various types of packaging, and how to integrate them with QR codes. We will then take a closer look at the bottle, which is the queen of packaging in Italy and deserves some dedicated notes.

So where do we put this blessed QR code?

Type of packaging

Primary packaging

Primary packaging is the first coating of the product: some examples are the bottle of wine or beer, the can, the package of cookies or pasta. It can be made of paper, cardboard, cardboard, plastic, glass or metal, and usually carries a list of ingredients, expiration date and warning symbols.

This part of the packaging is for the consumer and is crucial in the presentation of the product. In general we should try to use small graphics, space being limited, and reduce any text or instructions to a minimum, a call to action of a few words at most. In this case, QR codes that bring the consumer closer to the product itself as a unit, thus to its history and characteristics, are suitable.

Secondary packaging

Secondary packaging is the next coating, the one that wraps around the primary packaging but does not directly contain the product, for example, the cardboard part of beer packages or medicine boxes.

In this part of the packaging, which is also dedicated to the consumer (except for products intended for the horeca), usually it’s the brand that is the master, and is therefore more suitable for QR codes that lead back to the company’s website, or to social channels, or even to offers and coupons for other products in the same line.

Example of QR code in secondary packaging

In this case, the available space is generally larger, so a larger QR code can be used and detailed instructions for use can also be attached, thus increasing the likelihood of obtaining scans.

Tertiary packaging

Tertiary packaging is the final product container, used for warehouse storage and transportation, such as packaging or corrugated cardboard boxes. In this case, it is likely that the person viewing the QR code is not an individual but a professional, and this should be kept in mind when choosing the destination of the code in question. In fact, in this case it may be more useful to include technical information instead of links to social media and storytelling pages.

Package design

Once we have chosen the target audience for our QR and consequently the type of packaging in which we will place it, we need to decide how to integrate it into the existing package design.

Let’s look at a few different cases in which the degree of freedom we can move with varies, and look for solutions to any problems that might arise.

Customized packaging

In the first case, the answer is simple: ideally, create a new package design that also includes a small space for the code, along with a short sentence inviting the consumer to scan it. This, of course, can only be done if the products in question have yet to be labeled or packaged.

The ideal solution is to integrate the QR code into existing graphics.

Generic or non-editable packaging

If you do not have the ability to change the design of your package, perhaps because you have already sent labels to print, the quickest and easiest alternative is undoubtedly the sticker label. Inexpensive, quick to apply and flashy, the label allows a QR code to be applied to virtually any packaged product.

Product without packaging

Fresh products, such as may be fruits or baked goods, do not allow a QR code to be applied directly. In this case, the best choice is probably to place the code directly in the display, via a plastic or cardboard tag.

For a bulk product, one possible solution is to enter the code in the display

On the front or the back?

The location of the QR depends on what you want to achieve. If your intention is to attract new consumers and increase sales, it is ideal to place the code on the front of the package-this way the code will be seen by people even when the product is displayed on store shelves, and it may intrigue consumers and induce them to choose your product over the competition’s.

If, on the other hand, your intention is to further retain the customers you have already acquired, it will be sufficient to place it on the back of the package, impacting the design less and letting the consumer scan it at a later time, perhaps at home and more leisurely.

QR code on bottles

I would like to spend a few more paragraphs on the use of QR codes in bottles, given the importance of Italian production of products that use this type of packaging, first and foremost wines, spirits and olive oils.

Inserting a QR code into a bottle is not at all simple: there is little space and the surfaces are curved, making it more difficult to scan as you approach the neck of the bottle. Let us analyze the pros and cons of the various possible solutions.

Front label

Putting the QR code on the front label is certainly a move that is as bold as it is functional: the code will probably be scanned by a lot of customers, but the obvious disadvantage will be the aesthetic impact on the bottle. Not recommended if elegance is a cornerstone of your brand.

Back label

Inserting the QR code into the back label is by far the most common and least invasive solution. Usually you can carve out enough space to insert the QR, and you get a good compromise of functionality and aesthetics, as you are not going to affect the front label.


A sticker, with the right choice of colors and materials, can be a good choice. First, it does not require a label reprint, and it can be flexibly placed anywhere on the bottle, even in the neck if it is a very small QR code.

Again, the risk here is to make the overall aesthetics of the bottle less elegant. This is why it is important to choose a sticker whose design is consistent with the rest of the packaging, and to place it in such a way that it does not break the symmetry of the bottle.

Some examples of the stickers used by QualityChain’s clients (from left: Terraliva, Vini Apuani, Olio Borrelli, De Toma Wine)

Lanyard and nameplate

An alternative that does not detract from the original packaging is to have a tag hanging from the neck of the bottle with a lanyard. This solution means that labels and packaging do not need to be redone, but it has a higher cost than the sticker and carries a higher risk of the QR code getting lost during bottle transport.

Cardboard collar

Another possible solution is the use of a cardboard collar, for which largely the same observations made for the previous solution apply. The cardboard structure might look neater and increase the visibility of the QR code, but it is at the same time more prone to folds and tears that could ruin it.

Now what?

Now you have all the knowledge you need to choose the best QR Code placement on your product.

In the next article we will find out together what colors, sizes and materials you should use to maximize the readability and effectiveness of your code.

If this topic interests you and you want to learn more, follow QualityChain on our social channels.




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QualityChain helps Italian agribusiness SMEs transform their products from simple exhibits to true digital experiences capable of enhancing their uniqueness. QualityChain is a transparent, smartphone-friendly space in which to share with consumers the history and values of small Italian producers, a showcase from which to observe the skilled hands that work the land, the wine, the bread, and everything good that our companies produce.

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