Monday, June 30, 2014

UNFI Supplier Community Update

Welcome Suppliers. Thanks for joining us this quarter to stay current on UNFI supply chain initiatives and information. I’d also like to remind you to visit another key resource, our Supplier Support Site.


As our team continues to evolve to better serve you, we have several changes to announce. Some of these folks are currently in a transitional period so we’ll update you once the changes are completed.

Position Changes
  • Maureen Hines has been promoted to Supplier Relationship Group Manager. Maureen joined us in 2011 as a Supplier Relationship Manager (SRM), managing the beverage categories. Her significant management and category expertise will be a great addition to the Group Management team. She’ll be responsible for the Dry Grocery Categories, managing Joseph Roy, Jacquelyn Schneider, David Lotti, Veronica Vanni, Arin Donahue, Richard Bruns and Greg Esslinger. Maureen will continue to cover:  Beverages: Additives, Single Serve and Juice until we have hired her replacement.
  •  Laura Russo has been promoted to a newly created position of Associate SRM. Laura started with UNFI in 2011 as a Purchasing Assistant and then became a Supplier Relationship Support Administrator in 2013. She will begin transitioning into her new role over the next month and will be responsible for the management of:  Perishable Macrobiotic Foods/Tofu/Miso, Meat Alternatives, Dips and Salsas and Condiments and Frozen Fruits and Vegetables. 
  • Jason Walsh will be transitioning to a new position as a member of our ClearVue team. Jason has been working as an SRM since 2012, managing various frozen and perishable categories. He will continue to manage these categories until he shifts them to his replacement. 
  • Richard Bruns is responsible for new categories as an SRM. Effective immediately, Richard is responsible for the management of:  Beans: Dry / Prepared, Grains, Potatoes: Dry, Fish & Meat: Can / Glass, Tortillas (wraps), Specialty Tea: Non RTD and Hispanic.

New Team Members
  • Nancy Semmelrock joined the SRM team as Group Manager in December. Nancy has been with UNFI since 1989 in various positions, most recently as National Supplier Development Manager responsible for the Costing and Coding and Supplier Development teams. Nancy is also an active participant in the Partnership for Data Governance Product team. Nancy’s significant UNFI and industry knowledge, along with her strong interpersonal and communication skills, makes her a great addition to the team. Nancy’s primary focus is on special projects and the development of processes through cross-functional departments.
  •  Lisa Jorgensen joined us in April 2014 as an SRM. Lisa most recently worked for Nestle USA as a Package Design Manager. She has a significant background in the food industry, particularly in the frozen food, deli and prepared foods categories. Lisa will be responsible for the management of: Cheese/Cheese Alternatives, Frozen Entrees, Pizza and Pasta, Frozen Appetizers & Convenience and Frozen Beverages.
  • Kelli Menard joined UNFI in April 2014 as an SRM. Kelli worked for Dorman Products holding various positions while there, and has significant background in purchasing and product sourcing. She will be responsible for the management of: Supplements - Food Supplements, Multivitamins, Sport Supplements; Ointments and Medical Creams. 
  • James Gouin will begin transitioning to the team in early July as an SRM. James started with UNFI in 2013 as a Buyer, focusing on various perishable categories. His proficiency in buying and perishable expertise will be a great addition to the team. James will be responsible for the management of: Perishable Juice and Non Dairy Beverages. 

Supplier Relationship Manager (SRM) Line Assignments Update

Click here for the latest SRM line assignments.

Price Change Deadlines for Holiday

To meet retailers requirements during the peak 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 1st will be made effective for October 1st. Price changes submitted after July 1st will not take effect until January 1st.

Promotional Calendars

Find our 2015 deadline calendar and promotional forms on our Supplier Support Site. The deadline calendar includes due dates for promotions, advertising, new item packet and price/pack changes.

Our promotions team is here to help you be as successful as possible and will assist in identifying missed opportunities. Email your front/back half promotional grids to:
Don’t delay, the sooner we receive your promoted item listings to the emails listed above, the sooner our customers have the opportunity to see them and plan accordingly.

New Item and New Supplier Forms

Our New Supplier Form and New Item Form have been updated to include our newest distribution centers―Racine, WI and Hudson Valley, NY. Make sure you update your files with the newest versions: find them here.

Product Code Dates

We’ve found that many products shipped to UNFI are not labeled with a readable date code on the outside of the shipping case. A clear and readable date code will improve receiving efficiencies, allow for proper stock rotation, and most importantly, make sure our customers receive products with the correct expiration date. Your SRM will soon ask for your help to collect accurate date code information so we can update our system. I appreciate your prompt attention to this project.


Click here for a list of supplier line assignments by Buyer.


UNFI will soon begin testing a new way to communicate your weekly Manufacturer Charge Back (MCB) deductions electronically. We’ll start with a few East Region suppliers and then roll it out to more groups over the next several months. The new process will automatically email an Excel report to each supplier, saving time and paper while also providing a sortable spreadsheet format to analyze. Additional improvements related to communications and workflow are also being worked on with the intent to provide more transparency and quicker resolution. Email your questions to: (East Region) or (West Region).

A helpful overview of the different MCB processes that UNFI uses can be found here.


As we announced in May, we’ve changed the insurance requirements for suppliers with products containing protein. For specifics on this, click here.


In preparation for the opening of our two newest distribution centers, EDI suppliers should plan for new DUNS numbers. Learn more here and contact us with any questions.


We’re underway on a major initiative called Thrive, which will improve our processes and technologies for better supplier and customer experiences. For any questions on this, email us.

Here’s the latest:

Inventory Optimization (IO)

Our advanced forecasting system for buying, IO, is now live in our East Region. A few key points to remember:
  • We are deploying it according to the following schedule
Distribution Center
Estimated Conversion Date
July 19
August 2
August 16
Hudson Valley
August 30 (partial); early 2015 (full)
August 30
September 13
September 27
Select Nutrition East
September 27
October 11
October 25
October 25
Select Nutrition West
Fall 2014

  • Purchase orders will look and arrive to you the same way as they do now
  • Order patterns and quantities may shift. IO takes into account demand, sales history and lead time to determine an optimal ordering frequency. For example, you may no longer receive orders on the same day (e.g., every Tuesday) as you do now. Buyers will communicate any expected shifts in ordering patterns to reduce related impact to your production. 
  • IO takes into account promotional activity and lead time to optimize order quantities. For example, you may see an increase in purchases during promotional periods.

New Warehouse Management System

The installation of the new Warehouse Management System is targeted for July 20th at our Auburn, WA distribution center. Benefits of this system include voice selection technology, slotting optimization and engineered labor standards. It’s designed to deliver improved production, accuracy and quality in your experience with UNFI.

In order to install and test the system, it’s necessary to create 24 hours of order processing downtime at our Auburn facility. As a result, it will be closed on July 18th and no orders will be scheduled to deliver or receive on that day. 


New for 2015, we’re enhancing our current advertising options, updating our supermarket-focused Market Watch program and offering an innovative case stack program. Click here for rates.


Thank you to those suppliers who participated in our Tabletop Shows this year―our largest and most successful so far. We hosted over 3,000 buying retailers and 1,500 supplier exhibits at our Orlando, Foxwoods and Portland shows.

If you participated in a post event survey, thank you. Planning is already underway for 2015 and we have taken into consideration much of the advice you provided. Registration will open in late summer, so watch for an email in August that will include a link to register.

Please feel free to reach out to me or your SRM with any questions and comments.

John Raiche
Vice President, Marketing