Price look-up code
Price look-up codes, commonly called PLU codes, PLU numbers, PLUs, produce codes, or produce labels, are identification numbers affixed to produce in grocery stores and supermarkets to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate. The code is a four- or five-digit number. The four digit PLU codes for produce are assigned randomly within the 3000 and 4000 series, identifying the type of bulk produce, and often including the variety.
Organic produce may be differentiated from regular produce by placing "9" in front of the usual PLU - for example, bananas are identified by the PLU 4011, so organic bananas are 94011. In the future, the 83000 and 84000 series will be used; however, unlike the "9", the leading "8" will not denote a general category. At one time "8" numbers were reserved for GMO products, but they were opened for general use after GMO growers didn't use them.
The codes have been in use since 1990. Over 1400 PLU codes have been assigned. Use of PLU codes eliminates the need for grocery store checkers to identify each variety of produce visually. This saves time especially as the organic produce market has expanded; organic and conventional oranges, for example, may look the same but have different prices.
The system is administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS), a global coalition of fruit and vegetable associations, formed in 2001, "as equal partners to pursue the task of introducing a global standard for the use of international Price Look-Up (PLU) numbers".
PLU codes are used primarily in retail grocery stores or supermarkets, where they are keyed into a point of sale system by a cashier, or scanned by the customer at a self checkout machine, while the produce is being weighed on a scale. PLU codes can also be defined by the individual retailer, or location, and used in place of barcodes for a variety of reasons.
Retailer assigned codes
Some codes are reserved for retailers to assign themselves, though the general category may be specified. It is possible for a supplier to agree with all their retailers to use a specific code for a specific good. For example 3170 to 3269 are retailer assigned, for use with any goods, whereas 4193 to 4217 are retailer assigned, but for use with apples only.
Promotion via PLU stickers
Some producers have obtained a licence to place characters on stickers on fresh produce, often as a promotion for a movie, television show or other media franchise. Imagination Farms has marketed produce with collectible Disney character stickers such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo under the Disney Garden brand. Chiquita has also marketed bananas with Minions stickers on them, along with a competition.
- Universal Product Code, another system for identification of consumer products
- Stock-keeping unit (SKU) codes, another system
- Packaging and labeling
- "PLU Codes Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). IFPS. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- "IFPS Media Release: PLU code transition" (PDF). IFPS. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
- "About IFPS: Who are we?". IFPS. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
IFPS is composed of national produce associations from around the globe.
- "GS1 DataBar". Retrieved 8 August 2015.
- Imagination Farms announces Disney branding effort. The Packer. 17 May 2011
- Heather Fletcher. Case Study: Minions, Is That a Banana in Your Pocket?, Target Marketing, October 1, 2015
- The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) website
- User Guides (international Price Look-Up numbering scheme) http://www.ifpsglobal.com/Portals/22/IFPS%20Documents/PLU%20User%20guides/PLU%20Users%20Guide_Aug%202015.pdf
- A complete list of all currently assigned PLU numbers: http://www.ifpsglobal.com/Identification/PLU-Codes/PLU-codes-Search
- Online collection of PLU labels: http://www.fruitsticker.de
- PLU Lookup Utility: http://bobbywires.com/plu-1.php