What Is A PLU?

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on July 20, 2017 · 0 comments

PLU stands for Price Look Up code. You know it as the annoying little sticker on every apple you buy or the number on the bag of grapes that you punch into the self check-out register at the supermarket. PLUs have been around since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control faster and more accurate for anyone who sells fresh produce.

The International Federation for Product Standards (IFPS) sets the codes for fresh produce that are sold loose, bunched, by weight, or by individual piece. PLU codes contain 4 or 5 digits. The use of PLUs is voluntary but many countries – Chile, Canada, UK, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, and the US – use them because they set up a universal system for produce sales and traceability.

Here are just a few examples of PLUs:

  • 3061 beef steak tomatoes
  • 4011 bananas
  • 4225 Hass avocados
  • 4930 peanuts

If a PLU has a 9 in front of the usual 4-digit code it identifies the product as organic.

There is an urban myth that PLUs beginning with 8 indicate genetically modified produce (GMO). IFPS verified that this is not true.

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