Unified Grocers has named Charlie’s Produce as its exclusive partner in all produce categories for Unified’s independent retail customers operating stores in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. This new venture, Unified says, will significantly enhance the overall produce offering available to the wholesaler’s customers in the Pacific Northwest.
“We are proud to partner with Charlie’s and look forward to leveraging our combined strengths and the many growth opportunities our new relationship provides,” says Bob Ling, president and CEO of Commerce, Calif.-based Unified Grocers. “This new program enables our independent retailers to compete more effectively and differentiate their stores through a wide variety of quality, fresh produce. It also simplifies billing by consolidating statements and providing incentives for our retailers’ continued purchases through Unified and Charlie’s.”
Retail customers of Unified in the Pacific Northwest will now have more than 5,500 fresh produce items available, as well as a broad assortment of specialty and prepared produce, floral and home meal replacement products. Charlie’s extensive line of organic and local produce enables Unified’s customers to better meet shoppers’ growing demand for quality organic offerings, according to Unified. Charlie’s daily delivery service ensures that Unified’s independent retail stores have the freshest produce available at all times. Independent SQF Certification of Charlie’s processing facilities assures buyers that items are produced, processed and handled according to the high standards they expect, Unified says. To better serve their customers’ needs, Charlie’s also is reinvesting in its business through significant expansions and/or remodels for their facilities in Spokane, Seattle, Portland and Anchorage.
“At Charlie’s, we pride ourselves on developing long term partnerships that are built on trust and guaranteed customer satisfaction,” says Charlie Billow, CEO of Charlie’s Produce. “Combining the strength of the largest retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States with the largest produce company on the West Coast creates a new innovative, dynamic force in the marketplace. We are confident that Unified and its retailers will prosper from our relationship and the high level of service and quality that have made Charlie’s—and our customers—successful for more than 35 years.”
Many of Unified’s current produce employees will remain on Unified’s staff—or may join Charlie’s organization—to ensure continued customer satisfaction and excellent service to Unified’s retailers, according to Unified. Unified will continue to service Cash & Carry stores in the Pacific Northwest from the company’s Portland, Ore., produce facility.
Charlie’s Produce is an employee-owned, full-service produce company that supplies grocery stores, restaurants, institutions and the marine industry with a full range of conventional, organic and specialty produce, floral items and a large assortment of fresh-cut and custom-cut produce.