We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Here’s What Those Numbers on Produce Stickers Mean

A sticker on a banana features the Dole logo and a number.
Tada Images/Shutterstock.com

All of your grocery store produce features a sticker. Most of the time, you’ll find the brand name and a barcode on them, both of which are pretty self-explanatory. However, you might have noticed four digits above the bar code, as well. What do those numbers mean?

The four-digit numbers you see on produce stickers are Price Look-Up (PLU) codes, and they’re how a grocery store differentiates its goods.

Particular fruits and vegetables are assigned PLU codes according to the International Federation for Produce Standards—the organization in charge of the produce supply chain. The assigned numbers tell cashiers what a specific fruit or vegetable is, down to its variety, brand, and whether it’s organic or not.

One of the main purposes of PLU codes (other than ease of checkout) is to differentiate between organic and conventionally grown foods. If you’ve ever been confused about which is which at the store, this code will tell you.

Conventionally grown produce has a four-digit number in the 3,000-4,000 range. Meanwhile, organic produce will have a PLU code with a prefix of 9 in front of the typical code.

While PLU codes were designed specifically for grocery store employees, that doesn’t mean they can’t be handy for you, as well. Next time you’re picking up some seasonal produce and want to know if it’s organic or not, just check the PLU code and see if it starts with a 3 or 4—mystery solved!

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on a single goal: helping you make the most informed purchases possible. Want to know more?