Southeastern Grocers (SEG), has launched a partnership with Relocalize to pilot ice manufacturing in the world’s first autonomous micro-factory, which will manufacture a new private label offering: SE Grocers Party Cubes.
The new ice micro-factory was unveiled at the grocer’s Jacksonville, Fla. Distribution Center, and was designed to help eliminate middle-mile logistics to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, water waste and plastic pollution. The micro-factory is centrally managed by an AI-powered software platform and utilizes robotics for 100% of production labor.
“Our partnership with Relocalize meets at the intersection of sustainability and innovation and provides a unique opportunity to offer our customers better ice, in a better package, at a better price – that’s also better for the planet,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of SEG. “We plan to pilot ice manufacturing in the world’s first autonomous ice micro-factory in our hometown of Jacksonville, and we are excited to now offer Party Cubes in select local stores as we test and learn with the industry's first hyper-local, certified plastic-negative, packaged ice. We believe it’s our responsibility to be leaders of change, and we continue to push forward for a brighter future for our people, products and planet.”
The new ice offering, Party Cubes, store better and cost less for consumers compared to traditional bagged ice, according to the retailer, and are sold in smaller, leak-proof recycle-ready packaging. Party Cubes are available at two Jacksonville locations, including the Lakewood Winn-Dixie store and the grocer’s stand-alone liquor store WDs Wine, Beer and Liquor in the nearby Miramar neighborhood, with plans to potentially expand in the future.
“Two years ago, we set out on a mission to decarbonize food supply chains,” said Wayne McIntyre, CEO and co-founder of Relocalize. “Today, fully autonomous hyper-local food manufacturing becomes a reality through our partnership with Southeastern Grocers. This premier packaged ice micro-factory represents a fundamental shift in how packaged food is produced and distributed, ushering in the era of the one-step food journey from production to consumption."