UNFI Overhauls Produce Operations for Quicker Delivery Times

Wholesaler is also expanding its Wild Harvest private produce brand
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
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Wild Harvest UNFI
As part of its private label expansion, UNFI has added organic bananas to its Wild Harvest brand.

United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) is implementing new processes and technologies to speed up delivery times and deliver overall fresher produce to its customers. The company is also in the process of rolling out private branded organic produce under its Wild Harvest brand. 

As part of its commitment to deliver the highest quality produce, UNFI has redesigned its sourcing strategy by procuring many items directly from Mexican suppliers and otherwise consolidating its purchasing efforts. Commodity-specific thresholds have also been implemented in an effort to accelerate the movement of product through distribution centers and on to retailers.

“We know quality is the number one driver for produce purchases, which is why we are fanatical about freshness at UNFI Produce,” said Dorn Wenninger, SVP of produce at UNFI. “In line with UNFI’s overall strategy to harness technology and data to serve our customers better, these initiatives allow us to remove over a day from our supply chain and provide a fresher product to our customers and their shoppers.

“Our team is already seeing the positive results of our efforts to deliver the freshest produce to our customers and I’m looking forward to continuing to evolve UNFI as a best-in-class produce organization,” Wenninger continued.

UNFI also recently implemented the Share-ify quality control program, which is a real-time, cloud-based, tablet-enabled system that uses myriad data points to remove variability and ensure its growers and suppliers are providing the freshest produce possible. That technology is now online at half of UNFI’s produce distribution centers and will reach the rest by next month.

The wholesaler also recently hired industry veteran Susan Akin to serve as director of quality assurance, overseeing quality control programs throughout the company.

“The power of the data we now have in our hands is immense,” said Wenninger. “Our new technology updates provide greater transparency in our supply chain, better protecting our customers and helping us to 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’re assuring that we have the expertise, focus, and leadership to excel in unleashing the power of data for our customers.”

As for its private label expansion, the company is set to provide a broad catalog of organic produce through its easily recognized and trusted brand Wild Harvest. Organic bananas are already available to UNFI customers and additional items will be added throughout the rest of the year.

[Read more: "Which Retailer’s Private Label Brands Are Growing Fastest?"]

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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