Friday, October 3, 2014

UNFI Supplier Community Update

Welcome. I’m happy to share our Fall roundup of UNFI supplier news with you. Remember to also visit our Supplier Support Site, another key resource in doing business with us.


Here are the latest updates to our Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) team:

Position Change
  • Richard Bruns has been promoted to SRM Group Manager. Richard will be responsible for the Frozen and Perishable team, with the following direct reports: Laura Russo, Melissa Farkas, James Gouin, Kiva Shogren and Lisa Jorgensen.
New Team Members
  • Jessica Clancy joined the team in July as SRM. Prior to that, Jessica worked with our Inventory Planning and Replenishment team. Jessica manages the following beverage categories:  Additives, Single Serve and Juices. Jessica reports to Maureen Hines.
  • Nancy Willard joined the team in August as SRM. Nancy manages the Prepared Sauce, Dry Sauces & Seasoning Packets, Beans: Dry & Prepared, Grains, Potatoes: Dry, Spices & Seasonings, Olives/Capers/Tapenades, Pickles/Peppers/Relish/Marinated & Pickled Specialties. Nancy reports to Maureen Hines.
  • Sierra Connolly joined the team in August as our newest Associate SRM. Sierra manages the Fruit:  Can/Glass/Cups/Snacks, Vegetables:  Can/Glass, Batters & Coatings, Fish & Meat:  Can/Glass, Baby Food categories. Sierra reports to Meagan Kessel. 

Supplier Relationship Manager (SRM) Line Assignments Update

Click here for the latest SRM line assignments.

Product Code Dates

In my July update I asked for your help to collect accurate date code information so we could update our records. We’ll continue this process by requesting a clear, readable date code from suppliers that do not provide one on the outside of a shipping case. For any questions, please contact Nancy Semmelrock.

National Administrative Fee Program

UNFI facilitates various supplier deductions in exchange for administrative fees. The fees historically have been inconsistent across the country, so we’re moving to a national program that has one fee schedule effective November 1st. We will charge suppliers 10% with a minimum $25.00, whichever is greater, not to exceed $195. Every supplier who chooses to take advantage of UNFI’s third party billing option will incur administrative fees, with the exception of those whose fees are specifically outlined otherwise in their executed agreements. Contact your SRM or Joe Gordon with any questions.

Deductions Support

All Manufacturer Charge Back (MCB) and deductions concerns and correspondence should be directed to the national team email address, The East and West deduction teams have been consolidated into one to reduce response time and provide a single point of contact.

Electronic MCB Reports

I announced in my last update that we would begin testing a new way to communicate your weekly MCB deductions electronically, and eliminate paper reports. This change is a win-win―saving time and resources for you and us, as well as being environmentally friendly. We’ll continue to add more suppliers to this test, and on October 22nd, will deliver East Region reports electronically to all suppliers. We hope to deliver West Region reports electronically later this year. To receive electronic MCB reports, please click here to provide your email address. Contact Joe Gordon with any questions.

Supplier Survey

In early 2015, we plan to ask for your feedback as we continue to identify areas in need of attention, build on what you believe we’re doing right, and look for ways to enhance partnerships. Your response will be confidential, and we’ll share our overall findings and plans to address issues and opportunities. I encourage you to participate and help drive continued success for us all.


Distribution Center Ordering Insights
  • Hudson Valley, NY began shipping to customers last week. Every other week this month, we’ll transition groups of customers from Dayville, York and Chesterfield. No customer moves will take place through the holidays. We will begin to build additional inventory in December for the next transition phase, which will take place in mid-January.
  • Racine, WI is fully operational with all planned customer moves completed.
  • Iowa City, IA – We moved some customers in the St. Louis and Minneapolis markets from Greenwood, IN to Iowa City, IA last week.
Resources to Help You Develop a More Sustainable Supply Chain

We’re always looking for new ways to deepen our commitment to sustainable business practices. In that spirit, we would like to recommend two resources to you, as members of our supply chain:
Click here to learn more.


UNFI Joins IX-One Product Data Exchange

UNFI has joined the IX-ONE product data exchange as a founding member. IX-ONE is a membership based platform that provides independently verified and standardized product information to suppliers, brokers, distributors, retailers and key partners in the organic, natural and specialty products industry. The solution allows its members royalty-free use of all applicable data and images to run their businesses.  

We will be supporting an IX-One product data capture station located near our York, PA distribution center. UNFI recognizes the industry-wide need for a comprehensive solution to the problem of dysfunctional product data and images. We strongly encourage you to join IX-ONE. We believe it will help streamline new item setup, increase sales and create efficiencies for the entire industry. Contact IX-One at or (904) 512-3200 for more information.

Digital Consumer Circulars

Our Natural Connection and Healthy Advantage program will have a new digital feature beginning with January circulars. Participating retailers will be able to post the circulars on their websites, and both they and their customers will be able to share them via social media. Plus, consumers will be able to create shopping lists and use their tablet or smart phone to view the circulars.

2015 Tabletop Show Registration is Open

UNFI Tabletop Shows are a great opportunity to get in front of buyers, and I hope you’re making plans to attend. Space is limited and we will sell out, so don’t delay, click here to register.
  • Orlando Show: February 19-20, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • Foxwoods Show: May 13-14, Fox Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, CT
  • Portland Show: June 3-4, Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR
Thank you to those who participated in the 2014 post-show survey. Using that feedback we’ll be making improvements in 2015:
  • Customers asked for more time to buy and visit suppliers at the Orlando show, so we’ll extend the show hours by opening the half day before.
  • Suppliers said that a Friday show made travel back home difficult. Since the venue can only provide us a Thursday/Friday event, we’re closing the show at 2 p.m. on Friday to provide more travel time.
  • Customers identified new products as the #2 top reason for attending our tabletop shows (#1 was the deals). Therefore, we’re offering more opportunities to show off your new products.
  • Customers said they want to see your products featured at the Healthy Breakfast, so we’re offering Breakfast Sponsorships for several food categories at each show.
  • We want to help you strengthen your brand awareness, and have added new sponsorship opportunities like massage and recycling stations. Custom sponsorships are also available.
If you have any questions, contact

2015 Consumer and Trade Marketing Programs

Reach retailers and consumers with results-driven Marketing Programs available for 2015. Click here to learn more.

Customer Portal Web Advertising

Good news about our Customer Portal website―suppliers are seeing up to a 500% increase in traffic to product listing pages as a result of their banner ads. Consider including banner ads as part of your growth strategy. You can secure your product listing pages for $1,200/year/brand if you sign up before December 31, 2014. Otherwise, in January, those pages will be available for others at $500/month/brand (maximum 2 consecutive months). Check out our Case Studies and contact Laurie Donohue for more information.

Holiday 2015

Planning has begun for our 2015 Winter Holiday catalog. The catalog will have two sections: Holiday Specials, for items stocked and on deal through the holiday season, and Holiday Pre-order for ‘in-and-out’ items ordered in advance by retailers. It will be published in conjunction with our May and June Table Top Shows, and shipped with June Monthly Specials. Advertising opportunities include Customer Portal banner ads, webinars, email and styled advertorials. Click here to learn more.

East Region Advertising Agreement Billing Schedule Adjustment

We’re adjusting our East Region advertising agreement billing schedule to correspond with calendar quarters and our West Region billing schedule. Therefore, instead of the usual Sept-Oct-Nov quarterly billing, we will do a one-time adjustment and bill for four months (Sept-Oct-Nov-Dec).  Then, beginning in January 2015, advertising agreements will be billed quarterly, in Jan, April, July and October. For questions, contact your SRM.


One of UNFI’s greatest opportunities for growth is to Build out the Store, ensuring that we can meet virtually all of the needs of our retail customers, ranging from center store to the entire perimeter. In keeping with this strategy, we’ve formed a new channel―Gourmet/Ethnic.

We often use the term “specialty” in conjunction with this class of trade, but as we look at our greatest growth potential across the retail landscape, we are intentionally focusing on the “Gourmet” channel as a customer class that is unique in both their needs from a distributor perspective and their go-to market strategy. As such, we have determined that this channel must have a renewed attention and energy afforded to it, along with a unique supporting structure, discipline and leadership.

One of our key focus areas will be in major metropolitan markets where we have new distribution centers and significant capacity to invest in this highly differentiated assortment. We’ll also be stretching this channel across the country to encompass what we today call “Independent Supermarkets”, or those customers with a similar need to be nimble and competitive in an ever-changing retail environment.

To learn more about the Gourmet/Ethnic Channel team, click here.


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:
  • One Source is a project that will provide better national data, standardized reports and enhanced analytics capabilities. It will greatly improve our ability to share this type of information with our business partners.
  • Inventory Optimization (IO), our advanced forecasting system for buying, is in use at all of our West Region distribution centers. Our East Region rollout began on July 7th with Racine, Iowa City and Greenwood fully converted to date. All remaining East Region distribution centers will be converted by November.
Our Auburn, WA distribution center has been operating with the new Warehouse Management (WM) for two months and service levels have now normalized. We’re focused on capitalizing on the positive improvements we expect from WM: lower selection errors, lower billed/not received issues, and less damaged product due to better pallet building.

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