Enhancing Distribution Of Organic Products

UNFI, Tree Of Life expand operations to meet growing consumer demand for organics.


The distributor's warehouse capacity is larger than any of its competitors in the natural products industry. Following the launch of the Moreno Valley facility, UNFI will have more than 5.8 million square feet of space at 21 distribution centers nationwide.

With humble beginnings in 1970 as a small store in St. Augustine, FL, Tree of Life had, by the end of the decade, become the preeminent wholesale-distributor and marketer of natural and organic foods in the southeastern United States with sales in excess of $30 million. After a series of acquisitions over the next twenty years, Tree of Life grew itself into a nationwide specialty food distribution network, eventually reaching into Canada by 1999.

The company prides itself on providing excellence in buying, selling, logistics and order quality-the fundamentals of good retail distribution. Armed with its exclusive marketing service called Smart Assortment, product assortments are optimized in its distribution facilities and at the store shelf. The program draws on point-of-sale transactional data to ensure that product assortments meet the evolving needs of the target consumer. At retail, Smart Assortment develops optimal natural, organic, gourmet and specialty product assortments customized to the needs of individual stores.

In 2007, the company made two key public announcements about streamlining its supply chain. In March, at Natural Products Expo West, Tree of Life and ECR Software said they were nearing completion of Phase One of their EDI-based supply chain and marketing automation link. This link is between Tree of Life and its retail customers who use the ECRS Catapult Enterprise Point of Sale and Supplier Integration Server (SIS).

Last September, at the Natural Products Expo East, Tree of Life announced the completion and launch of Phase One of its interactive Broker Portal. The company's new Broker Portal-Phase One is the third in a series of information-sharing technology tools that Tree of Life had launched in the preceding year.

The first of these tools, the Tree of Life Retailer Portal, premiered at Natural Products Expo East in 2006 and the second (the Supplier Portal) has been in use by the company's Vendor/Manufacturer partners since early 2007. This provided a platform whereby further system and information sharing enhancements can be developed.

A catalog allows users to browse the complete lineup of Tree of Life-distributed products by distribution center and searchable by brand, category, product type and even by UPC code or item number. All new items are listed in an easy to understand format.

The bottom line: Organic products are in good hands with UNFI and Tree of Life leading the way in efficient supply chain and distribution practices.


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