PEIB COMMITTEE EXPANDS PLU CODE SYSTEM

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Electronic Identification Board's price look-up code review committee approved the expansion of its PLU code system and will add more than 75 new numbers to the existing range.While the existing codes are all in the 4000 series, new numbers will be assigned in the 3000 series, and will be phased in once retailers make the necessary changes to their point-of-sale systems."What

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Electronic Identification Board's price look-up code review committee approved the expansion of its PLU code system and will add more than 75 new numbers to the existing range.

While the existing codes are all in the 4000 series, new numbers will be assigned in the 3000 series, and will be phased in once retailers make the necessary changes to their point-of-sale systems.

"What retailers need to do in the next year is go into their databases and clear [any products from the] 3000 series," said Alicia Calhoun, coordinator for PEIB here.

Calhoun said some retailers may not be using the 3000 series at all, but others may be using several numbers in the series for nonproduce items.

"It could be a little time-consuming, depending on the retailer," she added. Retailers are advised to switch any commodities coded in the 3000 series to the 8000 or 9000 series.

The board hopes the new codes will be fully operational by Jan. 1, 1998, but certain produce commodities would begin using them once when they are in season.

Officials hope the new numbers will at least partially satisfy an industry need to assign PLU codes to commodities that are currently without them. The industry has been calling for action for several years.

"Our hands were kind of tied because we didn't have any numbers available," Calhoun said.

About a year ago, the PEIB began accepting ideas from retailers, growers and shippers about what products were in dire need of PLU codes.

"I received hundreds of requests for additional items," Calhoun said.

Retailers on the board met with the review committee two days before the Produce Marketing Association's convention in October to cut the numerous requests down to the most important ones.

"The industry responded strongly to our requests for ideas to enhance the existing PLU system," said Dan Hamilton, PEIB chairman and vice president of produce and floral at H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, in a statement. "We had to make decisions on approving items now, requesting information or turning them down. We made significant progress."