UPDATE:  [12/19/19 8:30AM]

Negotiators with United Natural Foods, Inc. expressed hope that they would have an agreement in place with labor by the end of the evening on Wednesday night (12/18/19) – but as of this writing no official end to the dispute has been announced.  Company officials released a statement early in the evening that suggested that a resolution might be near:

 “UNFI is anticipating the end of labor disruptions tonight and the resumption of normal business activity at distribution centers in Fort Wayne, Green Bay, and Hopkins. We hope to have our associates return to work in the very near-term. We’re also committed to return to the bargaining table in Fort Wayne and work in good faith with Teamsters Local 414 to reach a new labor agreement.

We’re happy that our valued associates at all three facilities will be able to return to work and no longer experience the unnecessary instability they’ve experienced during the early holiday season. We appreciate our customers patience during this and also thank our facility managers, supervisors and colleagues from around the country who came together to help ensure our customers continued to receive their shipments from us during this disruption.”

ORIGINAL STORY [12/18/19 2:52 PM]:

A week-long strike at an Indiana food distributor has just been expanded to Minnesota and Wisconsin, with potential affects for Northland grocery shoppers.  Currently more than 1,000 Teamsters are involved in the dispute with United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) - a Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company that acquired SuperValu in October 2018.  SuperValu distributes locally to Cub Foods stores - but also has ties to Coborn's, Lunds & Byerly's, Jerry's, Kowalski's, Whole Foods, even Amazon.

A contract dispute is at the center of the disagreement.  The labor union says that UNFI is under investigation for violation of federal labor laws in Fort Wayne.  The initial walk out happened on December 12 - affecting other Midwest states.  However, on December 17, workers at the Hopkins, Minesota and Green Bay, Wisconsin joined their brotherhood.  Around 700 employees in Hopkins are included in the strike.

UNFI is the largest wholesale distributor to natural and organic retailers in the U.S. and Canada. After its Oct. 2018 acquisition of SUPERVALU, it became the second-largest grocery wholesaler in America. Since the acquisition, UNFI stock has lost more than 80 percent of its value. Whole Foods/Amazon is now its largest customer, with 21 percent of UNFI’s total revenues in 2019. UNFI has been Amazon/Whole Foods’ primary distributor for 20 years.

Cub Foods customers are probably used to seeing brands like Essential Everyday, Culinary Circle, and Wild Harvest.  Those particular store-brands are some of the product that United Natural Foods, Inc. provides to the grocery stores that it operates.

A call to the Duluth location of Cub Foods to inquire about specific potential affects for Northland customers  yielded direction to contact the corporate office of SuperValu; as of this writing, we haven't received a call back.

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