Grocery wholesaler United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is increasing its efforts to support diverse-owned suppliers after having doubled its year-over-year spend with such firms during its 2022 fiscal year, the company said.
The Providence, R.I.-based operator said its fiscal 2023 goal is for 3% of annual product spend to be with diverse-owned businesses.
UNIF added that its supplier diversity group is actively engaging with diverse-owned firms to help them achieve equal access to purchasing and selling opportunities with corporate procurement, sales, merchandising, and retail teams.
To foster a more inclusive supplier network, UNFI has done the following:
- Created the ACT initiative which focuses on incorporating supplier diversity into UNFI’s everyday business practice
- Upped connections with UNFI customers while additionally making navigation within the UNFI network easier
- Increased transparency and accountability in the procurement process
While still in the early stages, in fiscal 2022 ACT resulted in more than $700 million of diverse supplier purchases by UNFI with more than 600 suppliers, the company said.
UNFI added that it uncovered 167 new diverse-owned suppliers who either were not previously identified as a diverse supplier or were not identified and did not have certification during a three-month outreach effort to existing suppliers.
Diverse-owned suppliers include small businesses owned by disabled individuals, minorities, women, veterans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, UNFI said. The wholesaler added that its mission is to build a more inclusive, vibrant, and competitive supply chain by valuing and promoting diverse-owned businesses and utilizing their perspectives and capabilities.
UNFI said its recent activities include working with Stop & Shop’s supplier diversity and category management teams to create a Pride month collaboration showcasing LGBTQ+ certified suppliers. Some 400 Stop & Shop stores last June created Pride month end caps with products from eight LGBTQ+ owned suppliers.
“Our work to educate UNFI associates on diverse-owned suppliers, combined with our efforts to consistently participate in matchmaking sessions between diverse-owned suppliers and retail customers, has created wonderful success stories,” Lori Rodriques, UNFI supplier diversity manager, said in a statement. “By purposely expanding our diverse supplier network, we’re creating more opportunities for diverse-owned suppliers to grow their businesses.”