What is a UPC number?

UPC stands for Universal Product Code. UPCs are used on fruits and vegetables that are sold by fixed weight, count, or volume (e.g.: 3 lb bag of apples, 3 count tomato, ½ pint of blueberries). A UPC contains 12 digits (including the smaller digits to the extreme left and right). UPC bar codes are scanned to obtain the price of the item.

What is a retailer assigned code?

Retailer assigned codes allow retailers to designate their own numbers for items that do not have standard UPC numbers assigned. After a supplier makes specific arrangements with all retailers that will receive the item, a retailer assigned number may be used. Shippers must not use these numbers without the prior agreement of all retailer customers intending to receive this item.

How do I apply for a new UPC?

Refer to the UPC application for detailed information.

How do I obtain a UPC number that identifies my company?

In Canada, contact GS1 Canada at 416-510-8039 or 800-567-7084 to purchase a company prefix. With this number, your company can assign UPCs for its products. In other countries, contact your national GS1 organization.

What’s the difference between using a generic UPC and a company specific UPC?

Generic codes:

  1. Do not identify the company of origin of an item, only the item.
  2. There is no fee to use generic UPCs that have already been assigned.
  3. The list of generic produce item numbers and descriptions is maintained by the PEIB.

Company specific codes:

  1. Must be purchased from your national GS1 organization.
  2. Can identify the company of origin as well as the item.
  3. allow the company to maintain its list of item numbers and descriptions.

How do I code organically grown produce with a UPC?

Where organic codes exist, they are included in the database.

Do you have a UPC for a mixed bag of salad or coin cut carrots?

Generic UPCs are not assigned to processed, mixed, or cut produce. However, when the system was first created 12 years ago, a few codes were assigned to cut items and remain as legacy numbers.

What do the different parts of a generic UPC mean?

Following is an example of a generic UPC:

- The first part of the UPC (0 33383) identifies the company prefix (in this case generic produce).
- The second part of the UPC (21200) identifies the item (ex. ½ pint of golden raspberries) .
- The last digit of the UPC (X) is the check digit. It is calculated by your label maker and serves as a security feature. 
** Note: The check digit is calculated according to an algorithm and should be supplied either by your printer or bar code generating software.

Can you tell me what "0 65422 11111 0" is assigned to?

The only company prefix managed by industry is 033383. To find out the owner of a specific company prefix (in this example 065422) contact your national GS1 organization. Unfortunately, your national GS1 organization cannot determine what description is assigned to an item number.

How do I obtain a complete list of generic UPCs for all commodities? 

Existing UPC codes are available by purchasing an annual subscription through the PMA Products website.
For help with purchasing a subscription, please contact the PMA Solution Center at solutionctr@pma.com or at 302-738-7100.

The annual subscription rate is $100 USD for CPMA or PMA members or $200 USD for non-members.