Food is now arriving at grocery store shelves across the East Coast with a smaller carbon footprint. That’s because SUPERVALU INC., Eden Prairie, Minn., SUPERVALU CNG truck stoppurchased 35 Class 8 Volvo trucks that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG).

The fleet, which operates out of SUPERVALU’s Mechanicsville, Va., distribution center and currently serves approximately 500 grocery stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina, is said to be the largest private fleet of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region.

To power the new trucks, Trillium CNG, a Chicago-based provider of compressed natural gas fueling solutions, built and will operate a fast-fill CNG station at SUPERVALU’s Mechanicsville distribution center. The conversion to natural gas will reduce the fleet’s annual oil consumption by more than 1 million gallons and result in 1,300 fewer tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The new CNG fleet and fast-fill station is also expected to reduce SUPERVALU’s operating costs given the lower cost of CNG.

“Our decision to transition to natural gas-powered trucks is in keeping with SUPERVALU’s long-standing commitment to do business in a sustainable manner,” says Mike Lech, vice president of logistics for SUPERVALU’s Eastern region. “This project is not only good for the environment, but also for the bottom line, as each natural gas-powered truck will cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel usage for our fleet. We’re proud of this effort and the many great partners who helped make it a reality.”

Utilizing Trillium’s high-performance fast-fill hydraulic intensifier, the new station can fuel trucks at a rate of 8-10 gallons per minute.

“The CNG station we built at the SUPERVALU distribution center in Mechanicsville, Va., is a turn-key fueling solution that allows SUPERVALU to focus on converting its fleet while Trillium focuses on the necessary fueling infrastructure to help SUPERVALU meet its transportation goals,” says Mary Boettcher, president, Trillium CNG. “We welcome SUPERVALU as a customer, and applaud its commitment to CNG vehicle fueling for its Eastern region fleet.”

In addition to serving hundreds of independently owned grocery stores, the Mechanicsville distribution center supplies SUPERVALU’s Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy banner, which operates 42 stores primarily in Virginia, as well as more than 50 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Volvo Trucks designed the new trucks specifically to meet SUPERVALU’s grocery hauling needs, and each features the latest innovations in clean-burning compressed natural gas.

"We're pleased to partner with SUPERVALU to deliver the latest in natural gas-powered vehicle technology," says Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American sales and marketing. "Grocery distribution provides an excellent opportunity for environmentally conscious companies like SUPERVALU to utilize the clean-burning, domestically abundant fuel."