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UNFI eyeing growing opportunity in e-commerce

E-commerce is a $200 million business for United Natural Foods with the potential for significant additional growth, an executive of the company said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference, UNFI CFO Michael Zechmeister said the distributor primarily acts as a "virtual warehouse" for online food sellers, but is also providing services to member stores and some direct-to-consumer sales. While reviewing third-quarter financial results earlier this month, Zechmeister said e-commerce sales grew by 31.6% as compared to the same period a year ago.


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On Tuesday Zechmeister highlighted the Providence, R.I., company's capability to provide a variety of organic and natural products as a key advantage among food suppliers serving virtual shoppers.

"We're obviously excited about the growth potential that's basically delivered some good results there," Zechmeister said Tuesday, adding that offering variety "is what we do best. We can provide value in a lot of different avenues. We can be a virtual warehouse for somebody who wants to be an online provider. We can be the aggregator of product for somebody who wants to get full truckload pricing advantage."

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