Sprouts Farmers Market has opened a new produce distribution center in Orlando, aiding its expansion across the state. It’s the first DC to open in Florida and the seventh across the country.
Since 2017, the retailer said it has been rapidly expanding across Florida and the Orlando center will serve the current 23 stores in the state and 10 more coming this year.
The distribution center is a 135,00 sq. ft. facility built for Sprouts and features 34°F and 55°F storage and fruit ripening rooms for the wide variety of fresh produce Sprouts offers. Sprouts recently announced it will drive efficiencies across its network of fresh distribution centers by locating them within 250 miles of the stores they serve, allowing for fresher, local assortment.
“With organics representing more than a third of our produce business in Florida, we know shoppers across the state are interested in fresh, affordable organics and local varieties,” said Scott Neal, chief fresh merchandising officer. “We’ve put together a team of local produce buyers to bring to market the freshest, local product available. Additionally, the new center’s state-of-the-art ripening rooms provide the ideal climate for produce storage and will immediately provide shoppers with perfectly-ripe avocados and bananas.”
The distribution center will support and expand Sprouts’ local farm partnerships with growers like Jim Rash, Noble Citrus, Astin Berry Exchange, and others, allowing for exclusives like Sugar Baby watermelons, a crisp yet juicy version with a classic sweet taste, available this summer. Later this year, Florida stores will transition to an all-organic mushroom set.
Sprouts is partnering with Penske Logistics as its third-party logistics provider for the distribution center and dedicated transportation fleet which created 57 new full-time jobs in the market. The grocer’s ability to offer the freshest, highest-quality produce at a great value is supported through its network of distribution centers, direct grower relationships, and enhanced quality controls. In addition to the new Orlando facility, Sprouts currently operates distribution centers in Aurora, Colo.; Colton and Union City, Calif.; Glendale, Ariz.; Wilmer, Texas; and Atlanta, Ga.
To celebrate the opening, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation donated $25,000 to Fleet Farming, an Orlando nonprofit urban agriculture program that brings edible landscaping to schools, community centers, and affordable housing units to increase local food accessibility. Their largest initiative can be seen in 13 micro farms or “farmlettes” they have helped create in previously unutilized front lawns in the Audubon Park community near Sprouts’ store in Winter Park. Fleet Farming hosts biweekly “swarm rides” whereby staff and volunteers bike from one farmlette to another, tending to and harvesting the produce.
The Foundation’s donation will provide Fleet Farming resources to purchase a vehicle to transport agricultural supplies and will support the buildout of a commissary kitchen which will allow staff to prepare food within a mile of their distribution hub. Remaining funds will be used to purchase gardening supplies like seedlings and soil for the 13 farmlettes. Since 2017, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation has donated more than $270,000 to nonprofit organizations across Florida, supporting garden-based learning and healthy eating programs for kids, including the work of Orlando Health Foundation and the Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation.