What Is PLU Code?

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Banana OrganicPhoto by mailxpressmcmc
You’ve probably noticed the labels on fruits and some vegetables with printed numbers on it.
They are usually on the products that come from imports, and if you are thinking that these numbers are there to reduce the crowds at the cash register in the supermarket or store, you’re wrong.
These stickers or labels have a more important role than the barcode with a price. The so-called PLU – Price Look Up – code is imprinted on them, by which we can more easily determine to which group of food product belongs. It is actually a number that speaks primarily to the way the plant is grown.
What PLU codes designate?
PLU code is introduced by Food Marketing Association and today is present on more than 1,400 kinds of products. This coding system was launched in America in 1990, and eventually New Zealand and most European countries accepted it and started to use it.
PLU code consists of 4 or 5 digits. We can find it in the form of a small sticker fixed to each individual piece of fresh product – fruit or vegetables. If you know how to read PLU code you can tell how the product is grown – is it genetically modified, organically grown or bred with the help of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and/or fungicides?
This coding is not prescribed by law, it is completely voluntary. However, more and more manufacturers, especially smaller ones who grow organic foods, recognizes the importance of these tags. This way it is easier for them to reach customers who are increasingly looking for organic products.
PLU codes are also used for dried fruits, nuts and herbs.
How to properly read the PLU code?
1. If PLU codes contain only 4 digits, it means that the fruit, vegetable or herb is grown by conventional or “traditional” method with the use of pesticides. These 4 digits just tell you which type of vegetable or fruit you are looking at. For example – all the bananas are numbered 4011, apples are 4131, kiwis 4030, orange 3107 etc.
2. If the PLU code contains 5 digits starting with number 8, it tells you that the fruit or vegetable is genetically modified. GMO food brings many dangers to our health – can cause infertility, hormone disruption or even tumors. GMO foods should be avoided. For example genetically grown (GMO) banana will carry the number 84011.
3. If the PLU code contains 5 digits starting with number 9, this tells you that it is grown organically and is not genetically modified. Organic bananas will have no 94011.


Food Marketing Association, which is behind the label announced that the labels that are attached to the fruit are not edible, but the adhesive glue is. In this regard, currently it is being considered that in the future fruit and vegetables should be marked by some other method.
For now the most attractive idea are marks made from natural substances, such as, for example, blueberry juice.


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