Albert's Organics cuts ribbon on Logan distribution center

Organically grown vegetables from Pennsylvania move through Albert's Organics in Logan Township.
Organically grown vegetables from Pennsylvania move through Albert's Organics in Logan Township. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 21, 2013

The organic-foods industry is no longer going gangbusters, as it did before the U.S. economy collapsed five years ago.

But despite the slowdown, Albert's Organics Inc., a national distributor of produce and other perishables based in Logan Township, still outgrew its distribution center there in the last couple of years.

The organic and natural-foods market is "still growing in the strong single to double digits. People are continuing to want to eat healthier," Albert's president Scott Dennis said Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting for a 70,000-square-foot distribution center and headquarters at the Gloucester County site.

The $10 million distribution center in the LogistiCenter at Logan is twice as big as the old one nearby, which Albert's had occupied for about 15 years, and has room to expand by 25,000 square feet.

Dennis said Albert's, which employs 125 people in Logan and more than 500 altogether in the United States and Canada, was counting on the "millennial generation" - those born after 1980 - for further expansion of the market.

"Now they have kids. They are shrewd shoppers. They want to eat healthy, and they're going to fuel the organic industry for the next 20 years," he said.

In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales climbed 9.4 percent, to $29.22 billion. Overall food sales were up 4 percent.

Albert's is a subsidiary of United Natural Foods Inc., a Providence, R.I., company that describes itself as the largest distributor of natural, organic, and specialty products in the United States and Canada.

United Natural, which bought Albert's in 1998 for about $11 million, earned $91.34 million on $5.24 billion in revenue for the year ended July 28, 2012.

United Natural says it is the main distributor of many natural and organic products to Whole Foods stores. But that does not include produce, which Whole Foods handles on its own, Dennis said.

Albert's has about $400 million in annual sales, Dennis said. The company has seven distribution centers, which also handle meat and dairy products, in the United States and one in Canada.

Dennis declined to name any of the stores Albert's supplies in the region.

Natural by Nature certified organic dairy products are among those Albert's distributes. "They are the best," Ned MacArthur said of Albert's. MacArthur cofounded Natural by Nature in 1994. The company is based in West Grove, Chester County.

Albert's will soon have another neighbor in the food-distribution business, said Gene Preston, a partner in Dermody Properties, which is developing the LogistiCenter.

Mission Produce, an Oxnard, Calif., distributor of avocados and asparagus, is expected to open a new distribution center in August, he said.


Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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