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.