Thursday, October 3, 2013

October 2013 - UNFI Supplier Community Update

Welcome Suppliers. Since my last update in July, we’ve made significant strides and I’m pleased to share them with you. I’ll report on a variety of topics such as team changes, line assignments, a major focus on maximizing our product mix, as well as process and program updates.

Supplier Relationship Management

With all Supplier Relationship Managers (SRMs) transitioned to national responsibilities, our focus has been to reconfigure our SRM leadership group from a regional to national structure as well.

Position Changes
Several team members have been recognized for their extraordinary skill by securing promotions within other areas of UNFI and will be leaving the SRM team.

·       Marc Ghidotti will lead our national procurement group, Inventory Planning and Replenishment (IPAR)
·       Jodi Booska and Bob Meyer will manage procurement staff and large groups of buyers as Directors of IPAR
·       Hector Muniz will take on a sales position effective this week and we are seeking his replacement. To ensure no disruption in our supplier relations, the following SRMs are covering his lines: Joseph Roy, Hispanic; David Lotti, Dry Potatoes and Grains; Jacquelyn Schneider, Canned Meat, Stews and Seafood, Canned Vegetables; Veronica Vanni, Dips and Salsas.
Leadership Structure Developments
·       Melissa Angle will lead our SRM team nationally, as well as the National Promotions and Analyst teams, as National Director. She’ll report directly to me.
·       Four SRM Group Managers will have responsibility for specific product categories. Group Managers will report to Melissa Angle. We created these new roles to maximize performance and provide increased efficiencies with suppliers and brokers.
Chris Depetris: HBC/Supplements/Non Foods
Reporting to Chris are Lisa Madsen, Nora Cline, Richard Bruns, Robyn Romano
Cindy Adamson: Frozen/Chill
Reporting to Cindy are Amie Thayer, Jason Walsh, Kiva Shogren , Russell Winterroth, Melissa Farkas
Betsy Gillette: Grocery
Reporting to Betsy are David Lotti, Jacquelyn Schneider, Joseph Roy, Maureen Hines, Veronica Vanni, Arin Donahue, Greg Esslinger
Meagan Kessel: ClearVue Suppliers/Grocery 
Reporting to Meagan are Amy Rooney, Melissa Ricardy, Valarie Rozokat, Wendy Savoie

As a result of these exciting changes, we are in the process of backfilling all open positions. We’ve already identified several highly skilled people who will be joining the team; here are the folks we can share at this time:

New Team Members
·       Melissa Farkas. Melissa started at UNFI in 1997 and has held various positions of increasing importance. Most recently, she was Lead Buyer in our Chesterfield distribution center. Melissa has significant knowledge in the Frozen categories. Once she has transitioned into her new role, we will communicate the categories she will be responsible for.
·       Arin Donahue. Arin worked for Delhaize America since 2009 and held various positions of increasing importance there. Arin has a substantial amount of knowledge in logistics and transportation, supplier relations and retail. She will be responsible for the management of these categories: Entrees and Mixes, Mac and Cheese; Sauces; Soups: Ready to Serve, Mixes, Broths, Bouillons, Stocks and Dry; Prepared Sauces: BBQ, Marinades, Steak, Wing, Hot, Seafood, Specialty; Asian; Indian.
·       Greg Esslinger. Greg started at UNFI in 2008 and has held various positions of increasing importance.  Most recently, he was a Buyer handling the Cookie and Baby Food categories.  Greg has significant system knowledge and expertise in the Grocery categories.  Once he has transitioned into his new role, we will communicate the categories he will be responsible for.
Line Assignments Update

Click here for the latest SRM line assignments.
IPAR / Procurement
Many of you have requested a current list of line assignments by buyer. Click here for the list.

Maintaining UNFI’s Industry leading product assortment

In early September we began to talk with you about upcoming plans for our product assortment. I’d like to continue that conversation here, to ensure that we are keeping you well-informed.
Our ability to quickly introduce your new products to the market is critical. In order to be successful at this task, we need to regularly evaluate our mix with consideration of market trends and product attributes and make thoughtful, timely decisions. In short, our intent is to sell your product. But if it isn’t selling, we believe we have a responsibility to you and our customers to act. As such, here is an outline of the next steps in our plans:
·       Several weeks ago we started a formal three-step review process for current product and brands. This is a true vetting process where our teams of Sales Reps, Buyers, Retail Category Managers and SRMs will provide input.
·       Next month we will also begin a formal review process for new items, which will involve significant dialogue with suppliers. More information will be provided to you on this in the coming weeks.
For more detail on this topic, click here.

Retail Store and reset opening order program
Soon, we will contact you about our new Retail Store and Reset Opening Order Program.  Formally known as SMOO (Supermarket Opening Order program), this program offers suppliers the opportunity to participate in the Supermarket and Independent/Natural channels as an approved supplier.  Being an approved supplier means that our Retail Category Managers and Sales teams will review your products with our customers for placement in these growth channels. Click here for more information, and to download the program form.

Thrive / Supply chain transformation project
One of our major initiatives underway is a project we call Thrive, which will improve our processes and technologies, therefore creating better supplier and customer experiences. In 2014, our priorities are to:

·       Pilot Inventory Reservation (IR) in the West - the ability to reserve and autoship product over a predetermined period
·       Implement Inventory Optimization (IO) in the East - advanced forecasting
·       Implement Distributed Order Management (DOM) in the East - the ability to allocate physical inventory for reservations
·       Implement Warehouse Management (WM) in Racine, Auburn, Atlanta and Hudson Valley - the optimization of warehouse capacity and labor
·       Open new distribution centers in Racine, WI and Hudson Valley, NY
·       Begin information gathering and analysis for our new Future Core solution

Inventory Optimization (IO) Update

We’re happy to announce that IO, an exception-based forecasting system has been in use in the West for two months. IO helps Buyers make efficient buying decisions using proactive functionality that will protect service levels, even during promotional and seasonal periods.
We understand suppliers may have experienced changes to ordering patterns, including variances from the traditional frequency and amounts. These fluctuations have stabilized as the new buying patterns have developed a rhythm. Contact your Buyer with any questions or concerns.

More Thrive Details Available
A multi-year project, Thrive has numerous components. I encourage you to learn more on our website or email  And thank you for your patience as we work through this project.

Holiday service levels: receiving Appointments
Peak holiday season is here. To ensure our service levels remain high at this critical time, please be diligent in delivering against your committed timelines. Timely deliveries will enable downstream processes to remain on schedule.

2014 marketing programs
New for 2014, we’re offering Web Advertising on our Customer Portal Website (shown below). Click here to review all our Marketing Programs and rates.

Tabletop Shows

By now you’ve received information on our upcoming Tabletop Shows and I hope you’re making plans to attend. The 2013 Shows, each completely sold out, were our strongest ever.

Space is limited, so it’s important to register now:
·         EAST Spring Summer Show: February 13-14, Disney's Contemporary Resort, FL
·         EAST Winter Holiday Show: May 14-15, MGM Grand at Foxwoods Casino, CT
·         WEST Winter Holiday Show: May 29-30, Oregon Convention Center, OR
More Foodservice Advertising Opportunities
Our newest publication for Foodservice customers has launched. Foodservice Catalog Plus provides suppliers one complete packageprint, email, web advertising to reach this channel. Take part by contacting Laurie Donohue or click here.

Spotlight Videos
Good news about our New Item Video’s no longer restricted to just new items. Because of that we’re calling them Spotlight Videos. Please take minute to watch them, and if you’d like us to film a video for your items contact Laurie Donohue.

United for more organic
I’d like to close this update with information about the organic community. You may be aware of an idea for self-funding that the Organic Trade Association has been communicating. Called the Organic Research and Promotions Program, it would be a vehicle to help grow demand for organic.

It’s important that we all weigh in. Start by completing this survey and have a say on the options that have been developed so far.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

July 2013 - UNFI Supplier Community Update

Welcome to our July 2013 Supplier Community update, one in a regular series of communications designed to keep our supplier and broker partners in the loop on the latest UNFI news. This update covers new faces on the Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) team, process updates, Thrive technology projects, and the latest news on our marketing programs, communications and events.

SRM Team Updates

Introducing Our Newest SRM Team Members:

Lisa Madsen, a longtime key UNFI associate, has joined the team as a Supplier Relationship Manager.  Lisa began her career with Select Nutrition in 1991, where she held various roles of increasing importance, including Buyer, Purchasing Manager, and Vice President of Purchasing and Marketing. In 2004, Lisa relocated to Dayville, CT as the Director of Business Analysis for Select Nutrition. Most recently, Lisa held the position of Director of Sustainability, Philanthropy and Internal Communications. Lisa’s extraordinary experience in supplier relations, budgeting, promotional planning, and marketing make her a tremendous addition to the group. Lisa is responsible for Personal Care suppliers and products.

Wendy Savoie will be joining the SRM Team on July 22 as a Supplier Relationship Manager.  Wendy is also a veteran UNFI associate, with a deep and diverse background. She began her career here in 1997, and has held various roles of increasing importance, including Sales Assistant, Promotions and Logistics Coordinator, Outside Sales Rep and Key Account Manager. Wendy then transitioned to the Finance department as a Corporate Staff Accountant. Wendy left UNFI briefly to spend time at home with her two young boys. Upon her return, she joined the Marketing team as the National Marketing Manager for UNFI’s National Supplier Marketing Programs. Wendy’s diverse work experience, significant system knowledge and strong supplier relationships will be a great contribution to the team. Wendy will have responsibility for the suppliers and products within the cookies and crackers categories. Until July 22, Jacquelyn Schneider will be covering those categories. 

Dan Bowersett has been promoted into a new role as our National SRM Analyst Manager. Dan joined UNFI in 2007 as a National Marketing Analyst. Dan’s significant system knowledge, analytical experience and attention to detail, make him a natural fit for this position. He has played an integral part in the development of many supplier reporting tools, including our premier ClearVue® reporting suite, and is presently heading up national SRM reporting efforts. Dan recently received a MBA from Nichols College in Dudley, MA.

SRM Line Assignment Update

Nora Cline has taken on the pet supplies and pet food categories. Nora has significant knowledge and familiarity with these categories which will facilitate a seamless transition. 

Single Point of Contact

As reported in our April update, we have successfully completed the process to provide every supplier with a single point of contact at UNFI.  Going forward, we will continue to focus on streamlining communication, increasing efficiencies and developing engaged relationships to mutually grow our business.

The current category and line assignments and SRM contact information is available on the UNFI Supplier Support site.

Process Updates

2014 Supplier and Broker Schedule Now Available

The 2014 schedule provides the lead time needed for UNFI and suppliers to successfully coordinate promotions with retailers.

The 2014 schedule is available on the Supplier Support site, as is our 2014 National Promotion Form.

UNFI strongly encourages brokers and suppliers to coordinate quarterly promotional plans with their UNFI SRM. Quarterly planning with UNFI facilitates retailer planning and effective consumer promotions. All Trade Deal promotions and revisions should be coordinated through and in accordance with the 2014 schedule.

New Product Introduction Requirements

Our retail partners are very interested in supporting new products. A product’s ingredients are a crucial factor in their evaluation of a new item.

An effective launch of new items includes the presentation in the New Product Section of the UNFI Monthly Specials books. Only new items with ingredients will be published in the New Products Section. Suppliers must provide legible ingredient statements for publication.
  • New items with ingredients will be published in the New Products Section of the Monthly Specials.
  • New items without ingredients will appear only as a line-listing within the body of the Monthly Specials.
Ensure an effective launch by providing legible ingredients with your new item setup information. Provide either an actual product label or a word or excel document with the list of ingredients exactly as they appear on the product label.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Supplier Relationship Manager. 

Thrive – UNFI’s Supply Chain Transformation Initiative

Enterprise Item Number (EIN) Update

Our April communication provided an introduction to EIN. Here are the latest updates:
  • Conversion Timeframe and Logistics: The go-live date has been extended from late 2013 to a date yet to be determined in 2014.
  • Conversion to EIN: UNFI is working to finalize the conversion plan and deployment schedule for Customers and Suppliers by the end of August. Upon finalization, your SRM will provide you with information and support to prepare you for the transition to EIN.  
  • EIN Learning Center: As part of our outreach and support, the Thrive team plans to launch the EIN Learning Center in July. This web-based, one-stop shop will provide training guides, archived news and communications, and an item number translation file mapping UNFI’s West region 5-digit numbers to the 6-digit EIN numbers.
Please continue to visit UNFI’s Enterprise Item Number webpage for the latest news on this important initiative. Should you have questions concerning EIN, please contact us at
IPAR and Inventory Optimization (IO) Update

IO, a sophisticated exception-based forecasting system, is now in use by UNFI’s Inventory Planning and Replenishment (IPAR) team in our West region. Following go-live, we began working to convert all SKUs from our old system to IO. The conversion process is now complete and we are placing all POs in the West from IO.

This tool will enable UNFI buyers to purchase on an exception basis, managing to the most economical order cycle, while enhancing service levels. It will help buyers to find the right balance between service level and warehouse inventory to achieve higher fill rates, fewer overstocks, and stronger growth for all stakeholders. With IO, buyers will have the ability to understand truly seasonal items and build inventory going into the season and decrease inventory coming out of the season.

More information is available to you on the IO web page. If you have questions, please speak to your buyer or email us at
Holiday Inventory Build
It is time to start thinking about building inventory for the fall holiday season. You will see increased PO volume starting in August on seasonally driven products. We need your help in providing the best possible service levels for the fall and holiday sales months. Proper planning will greatly increase our mutual success during this critical time of year.

Marketing Program News

UNFI Tabletop Shows – 2014 Early Sign-Up Rate

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2013 tabletop shows!  We had a very successful show season and have already started planning our 2014 shows.  Check out these 2013 show statistics:

  • Orders: In 2013, the number of orders placed at the shows increased on average 66% over 2012.
  • Attendance: Retailer attendance jumped an average of 16% at the 2013 shows. 
We hope you will join us for our 2014 shows. Sign up for any of our 2014 shows before September 20, 2013 and lock in the 2013 rate. Sign up today by submitting this form to your SRM: We look forward to seeing you next year.

NEW – Customer Portal Website

UNFI will launch a new Customer Portal website this summer. The new site will include all the features of the current site and improvements to the buying experience, reports, search, speed and other functions. Brokers and suppliers who currently use the UNFI customer website will receive more information about the new site in the coming weeks.

NEW – Web Portal Banner Advertising

UNFI’s new customer portal includes a limited number of advertising opportunities for suppliers.  

The portal is a great vehicle for reaching retailers. Our current customer websites get 200,000-240,000 visits per month from UNFI customers, who place over 9,500 orders through the website each month. Retailers who order by other methods use the website to research products, get reports and invoices, check on specials, view open turnover orders and more. 

We are offering a Web Advertising Springboard Special to celebrate the launch of the new customer portal - sign up for a 2014 banner ad package, and get the same package in 2013 at no cost.   Want to know more?  Contact Laurie Donohue, Marketing Program Manager, at, call Laurie at 603.256.3000 x32126, or visit the UNFI Supplier Support site.

NEW – Organic Matters: A Blog About Everything Organic

It is with great pleasure that we announce the rollout of UNFI’s new blog “Organic Matters” from Melody Meyer, UNFI’s Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations.  Melody’s blog is fueled by her decades-long career in the industry and her passion for organics.  If you’re interested in topics such as labeling, the Farm Bill, fair trade, organic regulation and policy, this is your go-to site.  Melody will keep you up-to-date on the latest organic news, policy issues, and current events related to the natural and organic industry.  In Melody’s words, her goal is to “educate and motivate as well as stimulate dialogue, focus and action within the organic community.” Sign up to follow the blog at
Thank you for your support of UNFI.  Please feel free to reach out to me or your SRM with any questions and comments.

John Raiche
Vice President, Marketing

Links and Contacts Mentioned in this Post

SRM Line and Category Assignments, SRM Contact Information

2014 Supplier and Broker Schedule

2014 National Promotion Form

Trade Deal Promotions Contacts

Thrive - Enterprise Item Number (EIN)

UNFI Tabletop Shows 2014 Early Sign-Up Rate Form


Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 4, 2013

April 2013 Supplier Community Update

Welcome to the latest in our series of Supplier Community updates. This update covers developments in UNFI’s Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) team, process updates, new distribution center information, and technology projects now underway that will improve our performance for both suppliers and customers.

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) Team Update

Single Point of Contact for Suppliers

It’s official! We have completed the process to provide every supplier with a single point of contact at UNFI. The goal of this Supplier-SRM alignment is to streamline communication, increase efficiencies, and develop engaged relationships to mutually grow our businesses. Click here for a list of Supplier-National SRM assignments, and SRM contact information.

New SRM Team Members

We’re happy to introduce our newest SRM team members:

Valarie Rozokat assumed SRM responsibilities on March 4, 2013. For the past 10 years, Valarie has been a Marketing Program Manager at UNFI, managing programs such as Annual Advertising Agreements, the Customized Marketing Program and our Holiday Editions, to name a few. Prior to joining UNFI in 2003, Valarie worked for Northeast Cooperatives as their Publications Supervisor. Valarie has a strong background in the industry, and a skill set that will be a great asset to the Supplier Relationship Management Team. Valarie will be transitioning into her new role over the course of the next few months and will take on the water, salad dressings and seasonings, extracts, and packaged salts categories.

Bob Meyer will be joining the team on April 8, 2013 as our Customer Program Manager, a newly created position that will focus on customer-specific programs to ensure our supplier and broker partners are compliant with the programs established by our retailer partners. It is our intention that this position will maximize transparency and clarity of our customers’ program requirements. Bob most recently held the position of Supply Chain Manager for TriMark United East, in Attleboro, MA where, for the past 13 years, he was responsible for the development of key processes to improve procurement practices. Bob is a highly skilled individual with depth in negotiation, analytics and process development. Bob will be a great addition to SRM team and we look forward to having him onboard.

Please join us in welcoming Valarie and Bob to our team. We continue to be very pleased with our progress and appreciate all the support from our Supplier and Broker partners as we develop the SRM team.

Process Updates

New Item and New Supplier Form Updates

UNFI’s New Supplier Form and New Item Form have been updated to include additional fields for warehouse address and information. The forms also include more detailed instructions.

Changes to the New Supplier Form:
  • Additional fields have been added for warehouse address, delivery and order desk information.
Changes to the New Item Form, Basic Information Sheet include:
  • Additional fields have been added for regional warehouse addresses
  • New product promotional fields have been updated
  • Category, beverage information and shelf life details reorganized for easier use and entry
  • A check box has been added to indicate type of distributor cost entered (fob or delivered)

A detailed review of all the changes is available on the UNFI Supplier Support Site at

The new forms are available on the UNFI Supplier Support Site at:

Price Change Blackout Period 

In working with our retail partners, we have found that to best service and meet their requirements during the peak Fall Holiday selling season, we cannot accept price changes with effective dates of October 1st – December 31st. All price changes must be received and implemented before or after this period. Price changes submitted by July 1 will be made effective for October 1. Price changes submitted after July 1 will not take effect until January 1.

New Distribution Centers 

UNFI continues to invest significant resources into building out the most extensive and efficient natural, organic, and specialty distribution network in the country. New distribution centers in Colorado, Wisconsin and New York are under development.

Denver, CO

The construction of our new Denver Distribution Center is on schedule for completion and migration of our operations by June 16, 2013. Located at 17901 East 40th Avenue, Aurora CO, 80011, the new facility features:
  • Over 500,000 total square feet, with 135,000 square feet of refrigeration and 50,000 square feet of freezer space
  • LEED certification
  • Zero waste, single stream recycling
  • On-site truck maintenance, washing and fueling facilities
  • A fully mechanized repack area

We thank all our suppliers who have offered us a one-time initial stocking order discount and extended terms. Your support is greatly appreciated.

UNFI’s Inventory Planning and Replenishment (IPAR) team will begin ordering for the new facility in late April and early May, and will provide you with the delivery location based on our conversion dates for specific categories of products.  Be sure to inform your shipping department and carriers of the change.

Our SRM team and other office personnel will begin to move to the new location starting 5/18.  Supplier and broker appointments will not be available from 5/15 to 6/1.  Please be sure that all samples and correspondence sent for arrival on or after 5/18 are sent to the new address: 17901 East 40th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80011.   If you have any questions about the move to our new Denver facility, please contact your Supplier Relationship Manager.

Racine, WI

In January 2013, UNFI announced plans to build a new 425,000 square foot distribution center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, just west of Racine. Construction will begin in the summer of 2013, and we expect to begin distribution during the summer of 2014. UNFI's Racine facility will support growth, eliminate the need for outside storage, and reduce the stress on our other Midwest DCs during peak volume periods.

Hudson Valley, NY

Breaking news! UNFI announces plans for a new distribution center in Montgomery, New York. This distribution center will be known as UNFI Hudson Valley and is located about 70 miles north of New York City. Our Hudson Valley DC will augment UNFI’s already formidable Northeast assets and will not replace any current UNFI distribution center. Our plan is to have this facility operational by Fall 2014.

Supply Chain Transformation Update

UNFI continues to make progress towards transforming our supply chain platform and toolset. This effort has been brought together in a company-wide initiative known as Thrive, Moving Forward. Growing Together. While certainly technology centric, this initiative touches every aspect and functional area of our organization.

The Thrive initiative will:
  • Optimize our customer experience
  • Transform our Supply Chain
  • Enhance our processes
  • Reinvent our technology
  • Grow our business
  • Nurture our purpose and culture 
Click here to see a short video from Sean Griffin, UNFI Group President and Kevin Kelly, UNFI Corporate Director of National Accounts, explaining UNFI’s Thrive initiative.

Inventory Optimization (IO) Update

We are now using the new Manhattan Inventory Optimization (IO) system in UNFI’s West Region! As we announced in January, IO is a sophisticated, exception-based forecasting system that allows us to better manage and optimize inventory levels. With the new system in place, purchasing patterns will be more efficient and seasonally accurate, and buyers will monitor exceptions only, instead of all SKUs.
All buyers in Rocklin, Aurora, and Auburn have been trained and certified in the new system and are ready to answer your questions. With the new system, buyers’ jobs, and hence their interactions with you, will change.
  • IO will enable all buyers to purchase on an exception basis, managing to the most economical order cycle, while enhancing service levels.
  • IO will allow buyers to find the right balance between service level and warehouse inventory to ensure higher fill rates, less overstocked inventory, and stronger growth for all stakeholders.
  • With IO, buyers will have the ability to understand truly seasonal items and build inventory going into the season and decrease inventory coming out of the season.
Migration activities began on March 25, and will continue over the course of the next 4 months. This extended conversion period allows us to validate and improve existing relationships and patterns:
  • Buyers will ensure all SKUs are attached to the correct supplier relationship.
  • Each SKU will be individually examined to ensure the seasonal profiles are accurate, and that the parameters used to determine order quantity and frequency are up-to-date and in line with supplier specifications.
Throughout this conversion process you will experience only minor changes.
  • POs will not change. These come from our West Region business system, so whether you receive POs by EDI, fax or email you will see no change.
  • IO will suggest the optimum order cycle based on all of its financial parameters.
  • For suppliers with fixed pick-up or standing delivery schedules, nothing should change as those constraints still exist.
  • You may see a change to historical ordering patterns as IO will order to a fixed order cycle or to protect service level. This could mean that you receive POs more often than “normal” if needed. 

UNFI buyers will be able to accommodate all lead times, promotions and price brackets within the IO system. The more precise and accurate the information you provide to us, the more precise and accurate our purchases will be.

More information is available to you on the IO web page at If you have questions, please speak to your buyer directly, or email us at

Enterprise Item Number (EIN) Update

EIN – The Foundation for Thrive

The first step in enabling the delivery of the projects in the Thrive portfolio is to create a single, Enterprise Item Number (EIN) at UNFI. This will be achieved by implementing a new, 6-digit item number in the West region which will match the existing 6-digit number in the East region.

What Does this Mean for You?

If you currently use the existing West region 5-digit item number in any of your processes, you will be impacted by the change to a new 6-digit item number. The change to the West region item number is scheduled to occur later this year. Be assured that UNFI has developed a robust outreach program to make certain that you will have all of the information you need to guide you through the change.

Supplier Outreach 

We have developed a comprehensive supplier outreach plan to ensure that we keep you informed about the upcoming change and provide the information you need to help you through the change. Over the coming months, we will be distributing monthly EIN Bulletins, FAQs, leadership messages and posting EIN news and information on our EIN web page at

Click here for the April 2013 Enterprise Item Number information sheet.

Please keep visiting UNFI’s Thrive and Enterprise Item Number web pages at for updates on this important initiative.

Thank you for your support of UNFI. We welcome your feedback as we continue our focus on improving our processes and approach to ensure mutual success.

John Raiche
Vice President of Marketing

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 1, 2013

Supplier Relationship Management - Single Point of Contact

We are pleased to announce the completion of our initiative to provide our suppliers with a single point of contact at UNFI. This structure will streamline communications, increase efficiencies and support our mutual growth and success.

Click here for a detailed outline of category and line assignments and SRM contact information.

We are also pleased to announce that Valarie Rozokat will be joining the Supplier Relationship Management team. Valarie has a strong background in the industry and a skill set that will be a great asset to the team. In the past 10 years, as Marketing Program Manager at UNFI, Valarie has managed programs such as Annual Advertising Agreements, New Item Videos, Foodservice Advertising and Holiday Editions. Prior to joining UNFI in 2003, Valarie worked for Northeast Cooperatives as the Publications Supervisor. Valarie will be transitioning into her new role beginning March 4, 2013 and will take on the water, salad dressings and seasonings, extracts and packaged salts categories.

We appreciate the support you have given us through this transition and welcome your feedback regarding this critical business initiative.


John Raiche

Vice President, Marketing


Friday, January 4, 2013

UNFI Supplier Community Update, January 2013

Welcome to the latest in our series of Supplier Community updates.

We continue to make progress on a number of initiatives designed to improve the ease and effectiveness of your interactions with our team. This update covers developments in UNFI’s Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) team, program updates, new distribution center information and supply chain transformation now underway that will improve our performance for both suppliers and customers.

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) Team Update

Single Point of Contact for Suppliers

We continue to make great strides in providing our supplier and broker partners a single point of contact. Since our last update, we have made significant progress in aligning several categories and suppliers to a National single point of contact. Detailed below are the categories that are now managed by a single national SRM.

Amie Thayer – Chesterfield NH
Bread and Baked Goods
Meat Alternatives
Meats, Poultry and Seafood
Breakfast Foods
Cindy Adamson – Rocklin, CA
Cheese and Cheese Substitutes
David Lotti – Providence, RI
Grocery - Candy
Hector Muniz – Providence, RI
Kevin Calkins – Aurora, CO
Grocery/NonFoods – Pet Food and Pet Care
Kiva Shogren – Iowa City, IA
Perishable / Chill
Yogurts and Cultures
Maureen Hines – Providence, RI
Grocery – Beverages
Juice, Nectars and Concentrates
Carbonated Juice and Sodas
Nora Cline – Providence, RI
Cleaning and Supplies
Paper Goods, Party and Office Supplies
Russell Winterroth – Aurora, CO
Appetizers and Snacks
Kids and Baby Food
Veronica Vanni – Providence, RI
Salty Snacks – Chips, Pretzels, Rice Cakes
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Pickles, Olives and Sauerkraut
Jason Walsh – Chesterfield, NH
Fruits and Vegetables
Lunch and Dinner Entrees
Juices and Beverages
Soy Foods and and Seitan
Macrobiotic Foods, Tofu, Japanese
Joseph Roy – Providence, RI
Pasta Sauces

Additionally, we have added new members to our National Supplier Relationship Management Team:

Veronica Vanni comes to UNFI with over 20 years of sales and management experience within the Natural Foods Industry. She began her career as a retail manager and buyer for independent natural food stores. She moved on to be responsible for territory management and brand management for a leading natural broker. Expanding her expertise, she was hired by Kraft Foods as East Coast Natural Sales Manager for Balance Bar. Veronica's most recent position was Vice President and Chief of Sales and iCommerce Director for Taste for Life (Lifestyles Ink), a custom publisher of nutritional, natural, and organic lifestyle publications, retail support materials and literature.

Jason Walsh has been in the food/grocery industry for the past 10 years in various positions, including restaurant management, sales and most recently, procurement. Jason has been with UNFI for the past 2 years, handling procurement for the salty snack and specialty categories. He has also served as the customer captain for Publix Supermarkets. Prior to UNFI, Jason spent 6 years at C&S Wholesale in the procurement department. Jason is a New Hampshire native, and holds a BS in Business Management from Keene State College.

Joseph Roy has over 15 years of experience in the food industry, with a strong background in supermarket. For the past 5 years, Joe has been a buyer at UNFI with a heavy concentration on Kosher. Most recently, Joe was promoted to Lead Buyer and has managed significant day to day responsibilities for the procurement team. Prior to UNFI, Joe worked for Shaw’s supermarkets for 11 years, with the last 7 as a grocery manager.

We will continue to keep you informed as we progress in our single point of contact initiative. Our goal is to have a single point of contact assigned to all suppliers by late February 2013. At that time, we will communicate details of the remainder of these strategic moves as well as a comprehensive outline of category and supplier assignments.

Program Updates

2013 Marketing Programs Overview

UNFI produces a wide variety of marketing vehicles designed to drive profitable sales. Our offering allows your company to efficiently deliver information and selling opportunities to our retailer partners, as well as engaging the ultimate consumers of your product. Please click here for an overview of UNFI’s Marketing Programs. Your SRM can answer any questions you may have regarding these programs, and assist you in developing the right marketing strategy to meet your objectives.

Market Watch™

 As UNFI’s Supermarket business continues to grow, our Market Watch™ program is a powerful selling tool for our Supermarket Sales Team. Using Market Watch, our team works with key retailers to incorporate your products into their seasonal programs. Each edition focuses on a variety of seasonal and promotional themes and is produced with the long lead times needed by supermarkets for their planning processes.   Please click here for information on the Market Watch™ program and how to participate. Contact your SRM with any program-related questions.

Instead of advertisements, we are offering the option to have an image included with your listing beginning with the September-October 2013 edition.

Upcoming Market Watch™ Deal Submission Deadlines:

September-October 2013 Edition: January 11, 2013
November 2013-January 2014 Edition: March 15, 2013

New Distribution Centers

UNFI continues to invest significant resources into building out the most extensive and efficient natural, organic, and specialty distribution network in North America.

Announcing our newest Distribution Center in Sturtevant, WI

UNFI is pleased to announce a new distribution center to support the continued strong sales growth in our East Region! We have signed an agreement to construct a 425,000 square foot distribution center in the village of Sturtevant, Wisconsin which is just west of Racine, WI. Construction will begin in the spring of 2013, and we expect to begin distribution during the summer of 2014. Our new Wisconsin facility will support growth, eliminate outside storage expense and inefficiencies, and reduce the stress on our current capacity and associates during peak volume periods.

New Denver CO Distribution Center

Scheduled to open in June 2013, UNFI's new, 553,000 square foot facility, in Denver is designed to meet the specific needs of natural, organic, and specialty products distribution, while also supporting our sustainability initiatives for energy efficiency and zero waste.
In March 2013, as part of the transition to the new distribution facility, we will begin reviewing our product orders for the current DC and planning our stocking orders for the new DC. Our goal is to minimize the amount of product inventory we need to move, while simultaneously ensuring that the new DC is fully stocked to prevent out of stocks or other supply chain interruptions.
We will be asking for your support in providing a special one-time stocking order discount to support the need for dual inventories as we ramp up the facility.

Supply Chain Transformation

UNFI is well along a path to transform our supply chain platform and toolset. This initiative has recently been brought together in a company-wide initiative branded Thrive - Moving Forward, Growing Together. While certainly technology-centric, this initiative touches every aspect and functional area of our organization. Throughout this initiative, UNFI will:
  • Optimize our customer experience
  • Nurture our purpose and culture
  • Transform our Supply Chain
  • Enhance our processes
  • Re-invent our technology
  • Grow our business
We're interested in your feedback and questions - please feel free to contact us at

Enterprise Information Management Project (EIM)

The Enterprise Information Management Program consists of two projects that are tightly integrated: Enterprise Master Data Management and Enterprise Information Warehouse. These projects will create new master data standards with new supporting processes, and build a new, best in class data warehouse, respectively.

We are phasing the rollout of this effort to provide results as quickly as possible. The first results will be implemented in August 2013, producing an enterprise item number. The enterprise item number will be the same in UNFI’s east and west systems, enabling us to provide better customer service, to more efficiently onboard new, national customers and reduce the complexity of many customer and product oriented processes through new, national standards. There are tremendous efforts made on a daily basis to serve customers and suppliers, move products, and produce reports – we are confident this effort will greatly optimize these and many other processes in the future.

We'll be assembling a list of FAQs regarding our Enterprise Information Management Project and will send them along to you promptly.  There will be more detailed communication as we move closer to August 2013 regarding rollout strategy and detailed execution timelines.

If you have questions or comments about UNFI's Enterprise Item Number project, please contact us at


Inventory Optimization (IO)

In April 2013, our West Region will be converting to a new replenishment and demand planning software program called Inventory Optimization (IO), utilizing a controlled roll-out over a 60-90 day period.

IO is a sophisticated exception based forecasting system that will identify sales trends and increase or decrease inventory accordingly. It has the ability to identify truly seasonal items and build inventory going into the season and decrease inventory coming out of the season.

Here are answers to key questions you may have about the IO program’s impact to our supplier community:

How will this affect my sales to UNFI?
While we do not expect any significant impact, there could be a period of inventory order size adjustments as the new system uses more advanced mathematical algorithms to determine the ideal amount of inventory UNFI should carry.

How will IO respond to my key retailer promotions?

For those retailers who forecast promotional demand with UNFI, IO will be better equipped to purchase against those demands.

How will purchase orders be different?
The physical, EDI, fax or email PO you currently receive from our West Business System (WBS) will be the same. The actual POs still come from the WBS system. What is different is that IO will calculate the order quantities.

How will this affect the current PO ordering pattern?
IO will suggest the optimum order cycle based on all of its financial parameters.
For vendors that have fixed pick up or standing delivery schedules nothing should change as those constraints still exist.
What will change is that a buyer will no longer just order a vendor every Thursday because “I have always ordered this vendor on Thursday”. What IO will do is order to a fixed order cycle or it will order outside the fixed cycle to protect service level. This could mean getting POs more often than “normal” if needed!
This above point will be more evident on vendor ship loads.

How will this affect promotional buying?
If there are multiple deals in the system at the same time, IO will pick the deal. The buyer will not determine forward buying, IO will. That is based on financial parameters and shelf life considerations.

How will IO handle bracket pricing?

IO will build to the best bracket available based on each distribution center’s volume.
IO will also build multiple DC POs into a higher bracket if available and it makes financial sense to do so.

What can I do to help?
  • Communicate these coming changes as needed within your organization.
  • Drive consistent and short order lead times – the key to the most efficient ordering and highest service levels to retailers.  
  • Lead a rigorous effort to consistently deliver a 98% or better fill rate on your orders.

Look for more details to be shared regarding this exciting project in the coming months!

Thank you for your support of UNFI. We welcome your feedback as we continue our focus on improving our processes and approach to ensure mutual success.