United Natural Foods, Inc. has broken ground on its newest distribution center, according to a Thursday announcement from the grocery distributor and retailer. The facility, located just north of Sarasota, Florida, which will include technology aimed at making the selecting, packing and loading processes more efficient, the company said.
The 1 million-square-foot facility will be air conditioned and feature natural and dimmable lighting as well as a full-building water filtration system. The distribution center will also include automation equipment, including re-pack technology from logistics firm Knapp that the company expects to improve service levels to customers as well as reduce the cost of filing orders, the press release noted.
“Distribution is our core business, so when we build a new distribution center we want to incorporate as much automation and technology as possible to improve our ability to service our customers while simultaneously lowering our costs to do so,” Erin Horvath, UNFI’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.
The new distribution center, which will replace an older facility, will be located within the SRQ Logistics Center, a 300-acre master-planned business park that neighbors Sarasota’s international airport, according to UNFI. The company is working with JLL, Broadstone Net Lease, Sansone Group and ARCO Design/Build on the project.
UNFI has spearheaded a number of initiatives this year as it has sought to rebound from the sharp drops in profitability it saw during the first half of 2023.
In June, the company partnered with Relex Solutions to make its demand planning and procurement operations more efficient. In August, UNFI launched a new platform with retail data supplier Crisp to help its suppliers extend their marketing and merchandising efforts.