PLU on my APL

This is one of the custom blogs I do for my Facebook friends. I asked if there was anything they wanted me to blog about, and I’m writing a post for Esther because she answered.

Please find out what’s up with stickers on fruit.

MP900227717Price Look-up Codes, or PLUs started appearing on fruit in 1990s in order to accommodate our new, bar-coded world. Since barcodes didn’t read well on round or funny-shaped objects, fruits and veggies got special treatment. Technically PLUs can be applied to anything, and although there is a national system, there’s nothing stopping a store from making up its own PLUs and using those. Except that the vast majority of fruit and veg for commercial purposes are already shipped with PLUs. So it’s impractical and inconvenient to make up your own numbers. To that end, the International Federation for Produce Standards is an organization dedicated to a unified PLU codebook.

You can tell things about the fruit you’re holding from the PLU. If the PLU is 5 numbers and starts with a 9, than it is designated organic. If it is only 4 numbers or if it starts with a 0, it’s just regular fruit. There is a prefix number 8 that would apply to GMO fruit if the manufacturers every got the balls to label GMOs.

If you hate the fruit stickers, you might be in luck. According to this article from 8 years ago tattood fruit is the next big thing. Maybe in 8 more years?

2 Replies to “PLU on my APL

  1. I am so glad to have this explained! Particularly the “9” designation as shorthand for organic. As a side note, I once purchased a carton of eggs and EACH EGG had “” written on it in (I’m hoping) food coloring. Clearly, my egg had more to say. Thanks for the column.


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