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UNFI Retreats on Word of Automation Program

United Natural Foods, Inc. (NYSE: UNFI) shares fell Monday, as it announced plans to implement an A.I.-powered robotic automation system in its soon-to-be-completed distribution center (DC), in Manchester, Pa. This advanced system, manufactured by Symbotic, is the second installation for UNFI and part of the Company’s commitment to further enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of its distribution center network. Once installed, UNFI expects the system to enhance the customer experience, improve quality and service to customers, increase capacity within its facilities, and lower overall costs to fulfill customer orders.

UNFI’s new Manchester distribution center is a 1.3-million-square-foot facility set to come online in the Summer of 2024 to improve existing customer experience and support new customer growth across the Northeast. Once completed, Symbotic’s end-to-end solution will provide robotic case pick capabilities in Manchester’s dry grocery area, improve order accuracy for customers, and automate the assembly of customer order pallets. Part of UNFI’s multi-year transformation plan, this new technology is intended to improve the customer receiving and replenishment experience when the order is delivered at the store. It is expected to be fully operational by Spring 2025.

The Symbotic warehouse automation system in Manchester is the same technology that is currently being deployed at the Company’s distribution center in Centralia, WA. The installation of the Centralia system is on track to become operational in the first half of 2024.

UNFI began trading Monday dipped 6.5 cents to $14.84.

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