Price Look-Up or PLU codes are used as a sticker on fruits and vegetables. The number of digits of these codes and the starting digit indicate a special and different concept. The PLU code has been used by supermarkets since 1990 to make it easier to check and control inventories. Different prices were offered to customers based on these codes and determining the type of fruit. The International Federation of Product Standards (IFPS) has introduced PLU codes for products for the first time to be paid fairly by customers depending on the type of product. This code was selected based on variety, growing conditions, and product size.
These codes are 4 or 5 digits that are randomly selected from the numbers 3000, 4000, 83000, 84000, 93000, and 94000. Digits after the first digit can be from 0 to 9 and do not represent a specific factor and are completely random. These codes are common all over the world and do not change from country to country.
Types of PLU codes
4-digit numbers are for products that grow naturally. These numbers start with 3 or 4.
The 5-digit numbers that use the codes 3000 and 4000 are organic products that must have the prefix 9 at the beginning, such as 93000 and 94000.
The 5-digit numbers that use the codes 3000 and 4000 with a prefix of 8 are GMOs.
Example of PLU codes on fruits and vegetables
Using PLU coding system is voluntary and international, which is fixed around the world like HS codes to export/import products. Furthermore, more than 1400 codes have been published for new products. If there is no PLU code for any type of products (such as apple, banana, etc.) which have not been previously coded based on size, cultivars, species, etc., there is a code range that can be selected by retailers to sell their products which are called “retailer assigned PLU code”.
For example, you can see the types of codes for different types of bananas as follows: