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How to Use Grocery Store Price Lookup Codes

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How to Use Grocery Store Price Lookup Codes to Your Advantage

4-digit PLU on product

Do you know what a PLU is? PLU is short for price lookup code.  You will find one attached to all the various produce at the grocery store.  Paying closer attention to a product PLU can help you make healthier shopping choices. 

Grocery stores have implemented PLUs to make things easier on them to help record inventory, and you can also use them to your advantage when shopping.  PLUs bring back some fond memories for me, which is why I am going to love writing and sharing this with you.

Back in the early 2000s in college I got a job at the local grocery store and they had this big sheet of PLU’s for different products. The PLU that sticks in my head the most is the banana, which has a PLU of 4011.  This was one of the first PLU codes I memorized.

Grocery Store Price Lookup Code overview

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The standard PLU is 4 digits, like the banana of 4011. This means that the produce was grown in a traditional form, chances are using chemical fertilizers. Do you see how these numbers might be able to help you as a consumer of fresh fruits and vegetables?

Now we are going to move on to another PLU, the 5 digit PLU. If the PLU has 5 digits it’s going to tell you one of two things. It’s either going to tell you if the product was grown organically or if the product was grown using GMO, aka genetically modified.

At the time I write this for you, I’ve actually never seen a PLU that begins with the number 8, which would tell you it was a GMO.  So if you found a banana that actually had a sticker stating it was GMO, it would be 84011.  At this point there is no law that mandates HAVING to label something as GMO, which is why I am not surprised I’ve never personally seen a PLU beginning with the number 8.

Outside of fresh produce, most of the foods that we consume that are GMO and don’t tell you will usually be containing some sort of syrup or oil that is made from GMO. I hate to say it, but do you really think a food manufacturer is going to tell you their product is GMO if they don’t have to? My gut says, no.

sample organic product grocery store plu codeThe last form of the PLU with 5 digits will contain the number 9.  This is going to tell you if the produce was grown organically or not. So, since we have stuck to the banana example we will use it again. The PLU for an organically grown banana would therefore be 94011.

The good news for any produce that is certified organic is that they are NOT allowed to have used anything GMO, so you can rest easy knowing that you are getting a product that is clean.  There always seems to be debate around whether organic is worth the price or not. From my own independent research I would have to advocate the use of organic produce, and a lot of that stems from the increase in nutrient density of organic foods.

So let’s face the music here, no matter what your “stance” is, we actually have the ability to decipher if the fresh produce we buy has been grown traditionally (4 digit PLU), has been grown using GMO (5 digits-begins with an 8), or if it has been grown organically (5 digits-begins with a 9).

No GMOIf we don’t take this into consideration we will basically be willingly and consciously putting chemicals into our body.   Thankfully most stores label their products organic or not, however some may not, so in these cases being armed with this basic knowledge of PLUs is going to be a blessing.

The biggest debate ALWAYS comes down to price of organic versus non-organic. Some people “have the money” and some people “don’t have the money.” Which, I would challenge to say that we are only going to be spending our money on things that we have belief in or value.

Think about all the little things we can cut out during the day that cost more money than organic produce that are actually BAD for us, that we could replace with something that will actually be providing our bodies with what they need.

It might not seem like eating these GMO and traditionally grown produce have an instant impact on our health, and it’s my belief that the human body is without a doubt tough and resilient, however I look at the long- term cost of even putting the body at risk of the dangers associated with chemicals, pesticides and anything GMO.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this insight into PLUs insightful, as I wanted to provide this to you as “food for thought” so that you could be better informed when it came time to make a decision on which produce to buy the next time you are grocery shopping.  Taking the extra time to select pesticide and GMO foods can have tremendous benefits on your overall health and well-being.  May you enjoy a long and healthy life without unnecessary sickness!

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Author Profile: Jeff Kappel

Author's Website  Sam Kappel and Jeff Kappel have been attached at the hips since being kids. As cousins they have a deep passion for helping others achieve a healthy balanced life without giving up on some of life's small pleasures. They have developed a 5 step system that anyone can use who wants long term results.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.

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Post Category: Nutrition