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DAYVILLE, Conn. -- United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) said yesterday it would open a new 352,000-square-foot distribution center in Sarasota, Fla. that will employ state-of-the-art technology, and enable the natural food wholesaler to lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve service to customers in the Southeastern United States.
Slated to begin operations early this autumn, the leased Sarasota DC will be a distribution hub for customers in Florida and the Caribbean, UNFI said. The facility will be the distributor's largest facility on the East Coast and the second largest in its nationwide distribution network.
According to UNFI, it has the largest warehouse capacity of any distributor in the natural products industry and, with the addition of the Sarasota DC, will have over 3.7 million square feet of space at 16 distribution centers across the United States.
The warehouse will include such cutting-edge technology as "Pick-to-Voice" order fulfillment systems, in addition to the largest refrigeration footprint in the company's distribution network, covering about 115,000 square feet, and the largest freezer capacity, with over 51,000 square feet at -20 degree Fahrenheit, said the distributor.
"Importantly, by transferring distribution routes from our Atlanta facility to the Sarasota facility, we are extending our commitment to environmentally responsible Initiatives by reducing greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions," said UNFI president and c.e.o. Michael Funk in a statement.
UNFI said it anticipates that the Sarasota DC will create 150 new jobs in the first year, rising to 250 jobs within three years.
UNFI distributes over 40,000 products to more than 18,000 customers across the country, including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators, and foodservice operators.