Natural Foods Merchandiser

UNFI and SPINS announce partnership

Today United Natural Foods and SPINS announced a new strategic alliance that will bring about a more cohesive common language for the natural products industry and develop a point-of-sale reporting service for the specialty and gourmet channel, according to the companies. “This partnership will help bring standardization, resources and business intelligence that will enable [natural products] retailers to become more competitive,” said Tony Olson, SPINS’ chief executive officer. For almost three years, the Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS has been working to develop a common language for the natural products industry and many retailer partners--companies like Tree of life and NSF, have been early adopters. “The UNFI partnership is a continuation of this,” Olson said. Olson said he hopes a common industry language will help “clear the haze” around often confusing and misleading marketing lingo. For example, a Boca Burger brown, which has no artificial ingredients, would be coded differently than a Boca Burger red which does contain some artificial ingredients. “With UNFI on board, it will help standardize this language and help the industry,” Olson said. “If manufacturers, distributors and retailers are all talking the same language, we’ll all be a lot more efficient and effective,” he said. Also, as part of the partnership, the Dayville, Conn.-based distributor UNFI is endorsing SPINS’ development of a point-of-sale reporting service specifically for the specialty gourmet channel. “SPINS’ reputation and expertise in the natural products industry will be key to the company’s successful debut of a POS reporting service for this previously untracked, yet lucrative channel,” said John Raiche, vice president of supply chain for UNFI in a press release. “The specialty gourmet channel is very similar to the natural [channel] in terms of size and scope, and the consumers are very similar. We will have more than 80 categories and 450-plus subcategories and by adopting this POS information from specialty we will be able to look at it the same way [as naturals],” Olson said.

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