Produce Codes: What Does the Sticker on Your Fruit Really Mean? | RMHP Blog



Produce Codes: What Does the Sticker on Your Fruit Really Mean?

4 Facts About Produce Stickers

The stickers you see on your produce aren’t just for scanning when you checkout. Each sticker contains the PLU (price look-up) number, but that’s not all. Produce stickers are full of information about the fruit and veggies you purchase at the supermarket.


The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at the labels on your produce! Here’s what those stickers really mean.


1. Conventionally grown produce has four digits on the sticker

If you buy a banana with a four-digit code (4011 is the code for bananas) on the sticker, that banana was conventionally grown with the use of pesticides. All conventionally grown produce will have stickers with four digits.


2. Organic produce stickers have five digits and start with ‘9’

If a fruit or veggie was grown organically, the sticker will have five digits, starting with “9.” An organically grown banana’s PLU would be 94011, for example.


Should you eat organic produce? It’s a highly personal decision, but these guidelines can help you choose -- organic or conventionally grown produce? If you want to avoid pesticides but can’t afford all organic all the time, go organic when buying thin-skinned fruit like apples, strawberries, and pears. Opt for conventionally grown when it comes to produce with thicker skin, like bananas and avocadoes.


3. Genetically modified produce stickers have five digits and start with ‘8’

Genetically modified produce stickers also have five digits, but these codes begin with the number “8.” The most common types of genetically modified produce you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores include:


  • Corn
  • Soybeans (primarily used in animal feed and vegetable oil, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be buying genetically modified soybeans directly)
  • Potatoes
  • Papaya (Hawaiian-grown papayas are more likely to be genetically modified)
  • Squash


4. Produce codes are universal

No matter where you shop, the produce code for a banana (and all other fruits and veggies) will be the same.


What if I want to avoid produce stickers?

If you hate peeling the stickers off, or just want to avoid as much excess trash as possible, shopping at your local farmer’s is a great way to avoid produce stickers.


Turn your grocery shopping errands into an enjoyable outing. Plan a visit to one of these fantastic Western Slope Farmer’s Markets for fresh, local produce.