Technologies, talent, and an updated produce sourcing model have enabled the company to deliver fresh produce to its customers.
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, August 04, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Consistent with its commitment to providing the highest quality produce, United Natural Foods, Inc. (NYSE: UNFI) (the “Company” or “UNFI”) announced today that it has implemented new technologies and processes to enable the Company to shorten certain delivery times by more than a day and harness the full potential of UNFI’s data points to deliver fresh produce to its customers. These efforts have proven successful as UNFI has grown its produce sales ahead of industry growth, even as farm produce retail industry figures move with inflation.
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UNFI is leveraging its depth of experience to provide a broad catalog of organic products under a trusted and easily recognizable brand name, Wild Harvest. Wild Harvest products are now available at hundreds of retailers across the country and the recently launched Wild Harvest organic bananas have been performing well, with dozens of additional key items to be introduced throughout the rest of 2022. The eye-catching purple branding makes make it easier for both buyers. and store associates to recognize which products are organic, while offering the confidence of the Wild Harvest label. (Photo: Business Wire)
Removal of more than one day from the supply chain
To help UNFI deliver the freshest produce to its customers, the Company redesigned its produce sourcing strategy by consolidating its purchasing efforts and sourcing many items directly from major Mexican suppliers. Product is then transported from those farms directly to UNFI’s distribution centers via a cross-docking facility in McAllen, TX, a best-in-class practice. UNFI has also implemented product-specific thresholds to expedite the movement of product through its distribution centers and retailers. The new sourcing model and supply chain processes improved inventory turns, reduced inventory loss and, most importantly, enabled UNFI to remove an average of more than one day from its supply chain during the last year.
“We know that quality is the number one driver of produce purchases, which is why we are fans of freshness at UNFI Produce,” said Dorn Wenninger, senior vice president of produce for UNFI. “In line with UNFI’s overall strategy of leveraging technology and data to better serve our customers, these initiatives allow us to cut more than one day out of our supply chain and bring fresher product to our customers and their buyers. Our team is already seeing the positive results of our efforts to deliver the freshest produce to our customers and I look forward to continuing UNFI’s evolution as a best-in-class produce organization.”
Using data to create a culture of quality
UNFI recently implemented Share-ify, a tablet-enabled, cloud-based, real-time quality control program that enables the company to synthesize tens of thousands of data points to eliminate variability and help ensure that its producers and vendors provide the freshest produce. possible. The technology is currently in use in half of UNFI’s produce distribution centers and will roll out to the rest in September. To help manage the implementation, UNFI recently hired industry veteran Susan Akin to serve as Director of Quality Assurance, overseeing quality control programs.
“The power of the data that we now have in our hands is immense,” says Wenninger. “Our new technology upgrades bring greater transparency into our supply chain, better protecting our customers and helping us provide them with the freshest, highest-quality produce available. But we’re not just investing in technology. With the addition of Susan and several other leaders to the team, we ensure we have the experience, focus and leadership to excel in unlocking the power of data for our clients.”
Wild Harvest Expansion
UNFI is also leveraging its depth of experience to provide a broad catalog of organic products under a trusted and easily recognizable brand name, Wild Harvest. The bold purple branding makes it easy for both shoppers and store associates to recognize which products are organic, while offering the confidence of the Wild Harvest label. The recently launched Wild Harvest Organic Bananas have performed well, and dozens of additional key items will be introduced throughout the remainder of 2022. Wild Harvest products are now available at hundreds of retailers across the country.
For more information on UNFI products, visit: https://www.unfifresh.com/unfi-produce
UNFI is North America’s leading grocery wholesaler, offering the widest variety of fresh, branded and private label produce to more than 30,000 locations across North America, including large natural food stores, independent retailers, chain from conventional supermarkets, e-commerce providers and food service customers. UNFI also provides a wide range of value-added services and segmented marketing expertise, including proprietary technology, data, market insights and shelf management to help customers and suppliers build their businesses and brands. As the largest full-service grocery partner in North America, UNFI is committed to building a food system that is better for everyone and is uniquely positioned to bring great food, more choice and new ideas to customers. To learn more about how UNFI is driving the future of food, visit www.unfi.com.
Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding the Company’s business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties and are based on current expectations and estimates of management; actual results may differ materially. The risks and uncertainties that could affect these statements are described in the Company’s filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, July 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (the “SEC”) on September 28, 2021 and other filings the Company makes with the SEC, including, but not limited to, the impact and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic; labor and other labor shortages and challenges; our dependence on major customers; the addition or loss of significant customers or material changes in our relationships with these customers; our sensitivity to general economic conditions, including changes in disposable income levels and consumer spending trends; the relatively low margins of our business, which are sensitive to inflationary and deflationary pressures; our ability to realize the anticipated benefits of our acquisitions and strategic initiatives, including our acquisition of Supervalu; our ability to timely and successfully implement our warehouse management system in all of our distribution centers and our transportation management system throughout the Company and achieve efficiencies and cost savings from these efforts; our ability to continue to grow sales, including of our higher-margin natural and organic food and non-food products, and to manage that growth; increased competition in our industry as a result of increased distribution of natural, organic and specialty products and the direct distribution of those products by large retailers and online distributors; increased competition in our industry, including as a result of continued retail consolidation and chain growth; union organizing activities that could cause labor relations difficulties and increased costs; our ability to operate and rely on third parties to operate reliable and secure technology systems; moderated supplier promotion activity, including decreasing future purchasing opportunities; the possibility of disruptions to our supply chain or distribution capabilities due to circumstances beyond our control, including a health outbreak; the potential for additional asset impairment charges; the risk of interruption of supplies due to lack of long-term contracts, severe weather, work stoppages or others; our ability to maintain food quality and safety; volatility in fuel costs; volatility in currency exchange rates; and our ability to successfully identify and complete asset or business acquisitions. All forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and, as such, speak only as of the date they are made. The Company does not undertake to update any information in the previous reports until the effective date of its future reports required by applicable laws. Any estimate of future results of operations is based on a number of assumptions, many of which are beyond the control of the Company and should not be construed in any way as a guarantee that such results will occur. These estimates are subject to change and could differ materially from the final reported results. The Company may periodically update these publicly announced estimates, but is not required to do so.
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