Price Look-Up codes
, commonly called PLU codes
, PLU numbers
, are identification numbers affixed to produce
and other products in grocery stores
to make check-out and inventory control
easier, faster, and more accurate. The code is a four or five-digit number, currently in the 0-4999 range, identifying the type of bulk produce, usually including the variety
produce is denoted by a five-digit number whose first digit is 9 (e.g. 94011 for organic yellow bananas
); an 8 prefix indicates genetically modified food
. The codes have been in use since 1990. Currently, there are over 1300 universal PLU codes assigned . Use of PLU codes eliminates the need for grocery store checkers to identify each variety of produce visually. This advantage is especially important with the growth of the organic produce market; organic and conventional oranges, for example, may look the same but have very different prices.
The system is administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association .
Price look-up codes are generally printed on small stickers or tags, and are considered inconvenient by some. Various new technologies are under consideration, including etching using lasers and printing or "tattooing" using ink made from substances such as blueberry juice.
Universal Product Code
- another system for identification of consumer products