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How to Remember PLU Codes for Produce

Updated April 17, 2017

PLU codes, short for produce lookup codes, are often the bane of any supermarket checkout employee's existence. The four-, sometimes five-, digit code is punched in for each produce that is bought, signifying to the computer how much it either costs per pound or by number of items. While they are a pain to learn, the codes signify certain produce, and through several exercises can be learnt.

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  1. Associate five-digit codes beginning with nine with organic produce. Any PLU that begins with a nine and is follwed by four other numbers is organic.

  2. Read the four-digit codes and associate them with conventionally grown produce -- ones that were sprayed or genetically modified.

  3. Remember that a five-digit code beginning with an eight is associated with genetically modified produce.

  4. Walk around the produce section of your local grocery store. Examine each fruit and its PLU code. This will aid your association between a certain fruit or vegetable and the code.

  5. Write down the PLU and the corresponding produce beside it to help associate one or the other. PLU codes are assigned randomly, so they must be memorised in order to remember them.

  6. Practice the codes, and their associated numbers, as much as you can for this is the best means of learning them. Using them in a day-to-day setting, such as in a cashier position, can also aid your knowledge.

  7. Tip

    Five-digit codes beginning with an eight are generally not seen, for it is optional for producers to label their products as genetically modified, and so they opt out of doing so.

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About the Author

Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.

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