United Natural Foods Inc. and Whole Foods Market, which have grown together for decades through a longstanding wholesale-retail partnership, have agreed to extend their agreement through September 2027, the companies said.
The extension tacks two years onto a 10-year deal that was set to expire in 2025. The new agreement runs through Sept. 27, 2027—at around the same time a separate wholesale agreement between Amazon and UNFI rival SpartanNash for its Amazon brand is also set to expire. Amazon is the owner of Whole Foods.
Sales to Whole Foods comprised about 25% of sales for the Providence, R.I.-based UNFI in its most recent quarter.
UNFI and Amazon have typically negotiated extensions at the midpoint of their contract. An analyst following UNFI, Bill Kirk of MKM Partners, said the relatively short extension was prudent given the distributor is concurrently preparing to name a new chief executive. Steve Spinner, UNFI’s chairman and outgoing CEO, said late last year that he anticipated the sides would reach an extension early this year.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNFI and Whole Foods have worked closely together to consistently deliver ‘better for you’ foods to consumers throughout North America. This extension allows both companies to maintain focus on what is most important: continuing to meet the growing demand for healthy food at home as we navigate through the global pandemic,” Spinner said. “We look forward to continuing to play a very important role in the rapidly evolving foodscape and supply chain, while furthering our tradition of innovation, scale and efficiency.”
“UNFI plays a key role in ensuring Whole Foods Market is able to meet the growing demand for high-quality products across our network of stores and facilities,” added Bart Beilman, SVP of supply chain and retail operations for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “We’re pleased to continue our strong and longstanding partnership with UNFI.”
WANT BREAKING NEWS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS?
Get today’s need-to-know grocery industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from Winsight Grocery Business.