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    UNFI Extends Distribution Pact with Whole Foods

    DAYVILLE, Conn. -- United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) here said yesterday that it has signed a new seven-year agreement with Whole Foods to continue as the natural supermarket chain's primary distributor.

    DAYVILLE, Conn. -- United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) here said yesterday that it has signed a new seven-year agreement with Whole Foods to continue as the natural supermarket chain's primary distributor.

    UNFI have entered into the new agreement, which extends an existing relationship, with Market Distribution, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, Inc.
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    Under the terms of the agreement, effective through Sept. 29, 2013, UNFI will continue to serve as the primary wholesale natural grocery distributor to Whole Foods Market in its U.S. regions where UNFI currently serves as the primary distributor. The new agreement supersedes an existing three-year primary distribution agreement that wasn't scheduled to expire until Dec. 31, 2007. Further terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.

    Noted Whole Foods co-president and co-c.o.o. Walter Robb in a statement: "This seven-year agreement will allow us to concentrate our capital investment and resources on aggressively expanding our store base. Having United Natural Foods as a distribution partner is an important element of our growth strategy, and we look forward to building and enhancing the strategic partnership between the two companies."

    UNFI president and c.e.o. Michael Funk said the deal will enable the distributor to "continue to invest in our infrastructure to provide scalability as well as the necessary support to meet their growth needs, as well as the growth of all our customers. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we will continue to focus on enhancing our distribution network."

    UNFI posted net sales of $2.43 billion for its fiscal 2006, which ended July 29. Whole Foods accounted for about 26 percent of UNFI sales at that time.

    UNFI carries and distributes over 40,000 products to more than 20,000 customers nationwide. The company serves a broad variety of retail formats, among them conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators, and the foodservice channel.

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