(Connections - Sue Masenheimer)
Many know York to be a hub for manufacturing and motorcycles, but did you know York is also a hub for all things natural and organic? United Natural Foods, Inc., the leading independent national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and products in the country, houses their largest distribution facility right here in York, Pennsylvania. From this central location, UNFI can send goods to supermarkets and specialty stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, from New York all the way to West Virginia.

UNFI's story began with the blossoming of the natural foods industry in the 1970's. As consumer interest grew, so too did the number of small, regional distributors across the country. Many started on tight, fledgling budgets and later grew into forces to be reckoned with in the natural foods industry. Two small distributors turned large distributors (Mountain People's Warehouse in Northern California and Cornucopia Natural Foods in New England) joined forces in 1996 to create United Natural Foods, Inc.

Other distributors across the country later joined the UNFI family, which now has a reach of the United States and Canada. The inventory of goods shipped out across the continent has grown from natural and organic food to also include related products like nutritional supplements and personal care items.

All of UNFI's facilities set an industry precedent for being the most modern and state-of-the-art. In January 2009, UNFI started operations at the York facility at 225 Cross Farm Lane. The 675,000-square-foot center is the largest in UNFI's nationwide distribution network, and is the first fully integrated facility offering a full assortment of natural, organic and specialty foods.

In November 2010, UNFI was pleased to announce that the York location earned the Energy Star designation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Star designation is the national mark of energy excellence.

(Connections - Sue Masenheimer)
Buildings with this label not only save money and energy, they also help fight global warming and have a smaller carbon footprint. The York plant reduced energy by 63% and scored 93 out of 100 possible points to be granted the Energy Star title.

To gain such a prestigious designation was central to UNFI's core values of sustainable living principles. At the York plant they were able to reduce light power density by more than 25% and water use was reduced by 40% thanks in part to motion-activated sensors and flow controls throughout the building.

Today UNFI ships to over 23,000 customer locations in the United States and Canada, and services the full spectrum of retail formats, from health food stores to food service customers. While the company strives to excel in distribution and continue to fulfill the highest of industry standards, they also stay connected to their environmental roots. UNFI personifies the organic movement in their adherence to certain tenets like sustainable agriculture and foods free of preservatives, non-organic fertilizer or pesticides that are harmful to the land and its people.

UNFI's business practices reflect the company's continued commitment to social and environmental responsibilities. As a result, they have garnered some much-deserved attention, receiving awards like One of the World's Most Admired Companies in 2009 by Fortune and One of America's Best Managed Companies in 2005 by Forbes.

The next time you push your shopping cart down the organic aisle at your grocery store, the odds are in your favor that most or all of your favorite natural food and products made it to the shelf because of United Natural Foods, Inc. To learn more about this exciting company and its impact on York County, visit them online at www.unfi.com.