Providence, Rhode Island-based United Natural Foods Inc. is using its network to help emerging brands expand distribution with UNFI’s customer base to better reach North American consumers.
To serve more than 30,000 retail customer locations, UNFI relies on its 56 distribution centers, representing more than 30 million square feet of warehouse space to facilitate the 1.8 million deliveries the company made during its fiscal year 2022. This supply chain network gives brands an opportunity to market to a variety of retail customers, but also accelerate speed to new markets.
“UNFI works with some of the most dynamic and innovative local, regional, and national grocers in North America, which presents a tremendous brand positioning opportunity,” said John Raiche, UNFI EVP, supplier services.
“Emerging brands can take advantage of UNFI’s account managers and sales team who have built long-term relationships with our customers, bringing them tailored programs, solutions, and enhanced value-added insights to strengthen suppliers’ marketing and merchandising efforts.”
Utilizing UNFI selling shows to meet hundreds of retailers
Start-up frozen pizza company, Talia Di Napoli, attended its first UNFI selling show in February 2022 in Orlando, Florida. Started in 2018, Talia di Napoli makes a variety of frozen pizza creations, handmade in Italy by master pizzaiolos, using traditions and all-natural ingredients. Since its first UNFI show, CEO Edouard Freda has been introduced to hundreds of UNFI independent retailers and points to these connections as having a significant impact on its growth.
“We had never done a UNFI show before February 2022,” said Freda. “We were in approximately six UNFI distribution centers with maybe 300 stores and we’re now in 12 distribution centers and have grown to over 800 retail locations.
“UNFI is the partner who is truly helping us scale our business. To start in New York and be able to distribute products to the West Coast with all the complexities and logistics is enormous. If you get your products and marketing programs right, UNFI is the perfect distributor to help take you nationwide and help you gain the notoriety and visibility that creates meaningful retail relationships.”
When a new supplier comes looking for distribution, the company offers several options, including its UpNext program, which is tailored to emerging brands. UpNext suppliers are selected through a review process with a goal of finding brands primed for growth and geographic expansion.
Founded in 2015, Evive, a nutrition company that produces plant-based, gluten-free smoothies, had already established the brand throughout Canada having received a financial investment on Dragons’ Den, a reality television program.
With eyes on expanding their footprint into the U.S., Evive turned to UNFI’s UpNext program to gain resources, insights and hands-on relationships. Two years into the program, Evive has products in 13 UNFI distribution centers across its four regions and is scheduled to graduate from the UpNext program later this year.
Brands interested in learning more can visit the UNFI supplier support site for additional information, resources and contact information.