The Meaning Behind the 4 Digit Sticker On Fresh Fruit (Hint): It’s Not What You Think

After years of pushing shopping carts through crowded supermarkets, most of us are pretty familiar with the tiny coded stickers appearing on fresh produce. What’s more important is the sequence of numbers printed on top, known as a PLU code.

More than simple advertising, these labels actually relay important information! After this read, you’ll be able to shop with confidence.

As it turns out, there are three different numbered codes. Let’s start with the basics: the four-digit code.

Fruits or veggies with this particular number sequence are grown according to agronomic standards. In simple terms, they sprouted with the help of fertilizers and pesticides.

While this harvesting process might sound scary or unhealthy, it’s actually relatively common! Incorporating such elements is considered growing with ‘conventional methods.’  Bananas are a perfect example.


Next up: the easy way to recognize ‘supernatural’ produce. Food items bearing a five-digit code that starts with the number eight are -you guessed it- genetically modified fruits and vegetables.

Sometime during their growth cycle, their genes were somehow enhanced or chemically altered in composition. Generally, you’ll see this type of label on tropical fruits, such as melons, bananas, and papayas.


Moving up the ‘sticker ladder’, we finally get to the good stuff! Any produce posting a code beginning with the number nine and five letters in length is the ‘best of the best.’ Generally, these are your organic (and slightly higher priced) healthy snacks.

100% natural, these fruits and vegetables were grown without the help of any chemicals or pesticides.

You’re probably wondering, “what about the fruits and veggies without a sticker at all?” Allow us to explain.

Produce items without a PLU sticker are usually imported from various countries. While they don’t require a particular code or number, these fruits and veggies should always include an ‘imported’ label. No sticker at all? Not to worry, they’ve been known to fall off during transit.

Source: Daily Mail