(March 5) SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — Sunkist Growers Inc. is expanding its country-of-origin labeling by printing the origin on its Price Look-Up stickers.

Sunkist will kick off its valencia crop this summer with the new labeling of domestic and imported fruit, said Michael Wootton, Sunkist’s vice president of corporate relations.

“The biggest change for us is putting the country origin on individual PLU stickers,” he said. “That will provide origin information similar to what banana suppliers have been doing for years.”

Currently, Sunkist stickers display its label, citrus variety and PLU code.

The new stickers will be placed on Sunkist’s individual first-grade fruit. Choice or standard grades are typically packaged.

Sunkist already puts country-of-origin information on all its packages such as cartons and bags. The information is printed in the appropriate language to match the destination of the citrus, Wootton said.

The change will be on permanent basis.

“We are trying to give growers and shippers time to exhaust their existing supply,” Wootton said.

Sunkist and other handlers are trying to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s labeling objectives without government intervention.

Wootton said if the industry makes a good faith effort to address the objective of informing the consumer, it could make legislative oversight unnecessary.

He said placing the origin on its PLU stickers came with minimal cost.

“It would only be a substantial (cost) if it was a requirement to sticker the fruit that isn’t already stickered,” he said.

Sunkist continues to work with USDA, retailers and the industry to find a solution to labeling rules that were in the 2002 farm bill.