UNFI Doubles Size of American Artisan Cheese and Specialty Program

Company expands to 2nd warehouse to serve retailers in Pacific Northwest
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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UNFI Doubles Size of American Artisans Cheese and Specialty Program
UNFI’s American Artisan Cheese and Specialty Program gives retailers a distinct category offering to make their cheese cases stand out.

Helping elevate artisanal cheese producers from family farms across the country, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has expanded its American Artisan Cheese and Specialty Program to a second warehouse to serve customers in the Pacific Northwest. Giving customers access to unique craft cheeses sourced from all over the nation, the program now serves more than 200 retailers across six states, doubling the program’s size since its launch in the fall of 2020.

UNFI customers using the program can order from a premier group of highly curated producers from each region across the country, such as Jasper Hill Farm, in Greensboro, Vt.; Green Dirt Farms, in Weston, Mo.; Tulip Tree Creamery, in Indianapolis; and Cowgirl Creamery, in Point Reyes, Calif. The majority of products are flown directly from each farm though a partnership with Southwest Airlines, personally picked up at the airport and delivered to each retailer, ensuring that retailers are getting the freshest possible product.

“Our team of certified cheese professionals took their passion for craft on the road across the country to discover some of the best cheeses from small family- run farms. Our American Artisan Cheese and Specialty Program gives UNFI customers a truly distinct category offering to make their cheese cases stand out,” said Rebekah Baker, director of cheese and specialty at UNFI. “We’re not only proud of the quality of producers in our program and the support we’re able to give to elevating local farms, but also by the unique way that we’re able to deliver on freshness.”

The cheese category has grown to be a big hit during the pandemic for the retail dairy department. Recent data from the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) points to cheese as a driver of overall growth in per capita dairy consumption. In the past decade, per capita consumption of cheese has risen 19%, according to Washington, D.C.-based ERS.

Meanwhile, in its March financial release, UNFI reported that its second quarter sales ending Jan. 29 were the highest in company history, rising 7.5% on a year-over-year basis to top $7.4 billion. As a result, the company raised its full-year outlook. 

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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