To access the existing globally-used PLU codes, refer to www.plucodes.com. If you are interested in applying for a new PLU code, please review the criteria and application.
PLU codes are 4 or 5 digit numbers which have been used by supermarkets since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate. They are primarily assigned to identify individual bulk fresh produce (and related items such as nuts and herbs)and will appear on a small sticker applied to the individual piece of fresh produce.
The PLU number identifies produce items based upon various attributes which can include the commodity, the variety, the growing methodology (e.g. organic) and the size group. These numbers are assigned by the IFPS after rigorous review at both the national and international levels. PLU codes ensure that the accurate price is paid by consumers by removing the need for cashiers to identify the product, whether or not it is conventionally or organically grown, etc. For example, PLU codes identify whether an apple is a conventionally grown Fuji apple which may sell for $1.29 per pound versus an organically grown Fuji apple which may sell for $2.29 per pound. PLU codes also identify a field grown tomato from a hot house tomato and much more.
The 4-digit PLU codes for produce are assigned randomly within a series of numbers within either the 3000 or 4000 series. There is no intelligence built into the 4-digit code. For example, no one number within the 4-digit number represents anything in particular. The 4-digit codes are for conventionally grown produce. 5-digit codes are used to identify organic or genetically modified produce. The prefix of ‘8’ would be placed in front of the 4-digit code for genetically modified produce and the prefix of ‘9’ would be placed in front of the 4-digit conventionally grown code for organic produce. You will not see the 5 digit codes in the PLU codes database since they are simply prefixes added to the conventionally grown produce PLU codes.
The PLU coding system is voluntary, not mandated by any governing body. There are currently over 1400 PLU codes issued for produce and produce related items.
For more information, see www.plucodes.com.