Private brands shine in UNFI Q3 report

The company cited private label and its record sales internationally as a pillar for long-term growth.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) reported a dip in its financials for the third quarter ending May 1, compared with high numbers during its pandemic performance a year ago, but on a two-year stack basis net sales were up 6.7%, and private brands proved a bright spot.

The organic products wholesaler cited private brands as one of its four pillars of long-term, sustainable growth, highlighted by the launch of more than 100 Field Day products across 15 categories and registering record sales internationally for its Essential Everyday brand.

The other four key areas of success for the company included the pursuit of new customers and leveraging its Key Food partnership, fresh food initiatives and cross-selling opportunities.

Per the the Q3 report, UNFI reported net income at $48.6 million for the period, down from the $88.1 million net income in the same pandemic-defined period in 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was $179 million, a nearly 20% slide.

Net sales for the quarter came in at $6.62 billion, down 5.9% from the same time frame in 2020. Net sales in chains dipped 5.6% to nearly $3 billion; independent retailers saw sales drop 11.4% to just under $1.6 billion.

Operating expenses related to restructuring, acquisition and integration rose slightly in the third quarter of this fiscal year, attributed in part to UNFI’s business positioning in the wake of the Supervalu acquisition.

“Our results reflect our unrelenting focus on efficiency and the profitability of our business, as we cycled the highest spikes of sales revenue from pantry loading in the prior-year quarter,” said  Steven L. Spinner, chairman and CEO. “As the industry and economic backdrop continue to evolve, UNFI remains well positioned for future growth. Fiscal 2020 was a record year for UNFI and fiscal 2021 is on-track to set another record. Looking ahead, we fully expect fiscal 2022 to be even better than this year.”

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers.