How to decode the PLU bulk produce
How to read produce stickers on organic and conventional produce..
by Allison Ray
In grocery stores, produce that is sold in bulk has a Price Look Up Code (PLU). The PLU code is
determined by the International Federation for Produce Standards
www.plucodes.com. The produce can have either a 4 or 5 digit code printed on a sticker that is applied directly to the
produce. The PLU stickers are used to make checkout easier and more efficient for the grocery store cashier.
Once you know a few basics about PLU codes they are a breeze to read and you
can double check the produce you choose to make sure that it is what you
PLU Numbers on Produce Stickers:
- Organic produce has a 5 digit PLU number that begins with the number 9.
- Conventional produce has a 4 digit PLU number that begins with the number 4.
- Genetically modified (GMO) produce has a 5 digit PLU number that begins with the number 8.
PLU Number Examples:
Granny Smith Apples
Genetically Engineered - Modified (GMO) Labeling:
Initially in 1992
when the bio tech companies thought that we would all wanted to eat their
altered food they wanted to have a new "code" so that we could all see which
food was the altered and would buy it up- ya right! So they adopted the number 8
to appear in front of their products. Quickly the industry learned that
not only do we NOT want the GMO foods we will purposely not purchase foods that
have been altered they no longer use the number "8" as part of the code.
The only GMO product that still used the "8" code is Hawaiian papaya.
foods that you can be sure are not GMO foods are labeled "Certified Organic".
Organic producers must follow strict rules to be able to label their products as
organic. Interesting or disturbingly enough the companies producing the
GMO (chemically altered foods) do not have labeling restrictions- Crazy!
Anything else is fair game unfortunately- pay special attention to products that
have corn, cotton seed or soy they may have GMO origins.
President Obama has
stated that he supports mandatory labeling of GMO foods. To sign the
petition to President Obama visit
Other information included on the PLU stickers:
Depending on where the
produce originates the PLU produce sticker may also contain the produce variety, grower, country of origin, and logo. The California Tree
Fruit Agreement uses PLU stickers as part of their branding effort by adding a logo to all stone fruits (peaches,
plums and nectarines) so consumers can recognize California fruits.
Examples of three different organic apple PLU stickers:
Cervantes Fuji Viva Terra Organic #94129 www.vivatierra.com
Produce of USA #94017 Organic Granny Smith Lg.
Stemilt Certified Organic #94133 Gala Produce of USA www.stemilt.com