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MIAMI-United Natural Foods, which bills itself as the largest publicly traded wholesale distributor to the natural and organic foods industry, is looking to set up a South Florida distribution center for its 40,000 products.

South Florida industrial brokers in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com the Dayville, CT-based company is looking to lease or purchase either an existing 250,000-sf building that could be expanded to 400,000 sf, or buy about 20 acres to build its own facility. United Natural Foods principals couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline for comment. However, brokerage sources familiar with the Connecticut company’s plans tell GlobeSt.com United would settle for either Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties.

United requires a minimum 30,000 sf of cold storage space, 15,000 sf of office and 30 dock doors. The company also plans to establish distribution centers in the Pacific Northwest and Texas. In Rocklin, CA, United expanded its distribution space last year to 487,000 sf, the largest of the company’s facilities.

In its Nov. 21 earnings release, company CEO Michael S. Funk said the new facilities are expected to reduce truck miles and transportation fuel expenses. United has 18,000 retail customers nationwide. Wholesale Foods Market is the largest customer. For its first fiscal quarter ended Oct. 28, the company reported net sales of $646.4 million, a 12.3% increase over the $576.6 million posted in the comparable period last year.

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