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Cracking the Numbers on Product Lookup Codes

by Sandy Todd Webster on Aug 22, 2012

Food for Thought

Have you ever wondered why retailers put those pesky numbered stickers—also known as product lookup codes (PLU)—on fresh fruits and vegetables?

According to the International Federation for Produce Standards, “PLU codes have been used by supermarkets since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster and more accurate. PLU codes are used to identify bulk produce (and related items such as nuts and herbs). They tell the supermarket cashier 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.” More than 1,400 universal PLU codes have been assigned to fresh produce.

These four- and five-digit codes indicate what the item is, its type, its size, where it was grown and how it was grown. Being able to recognize a few key PLU codes can be helpful as you decide which fruits and veggies to purchase. Plug in codes on produce you want to learn more about with this lookup tool: http://plucodes.com/search_wizard.aspx?s=1.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.