FreshDirect, a New York-based online fresh food grocer, opened FreshDirect Campus (FDC), a new state-of-the-art facility in New York City’s South Bronx community that reimagines farm-to-fork food distribution and manufacturing. The facility also adds thousands of new products and accelerates expansion into new geographies with its FreshDirect, FoodKick and FreshDirect At The Office brands.

The state-of-the-art food facility is equipped with robotic pick towers, smart routing technologies and 9 miles of conveyor belts. To deliver on FreshDirect’s commitment to sustainability, the new facility is environmentally friendly, highly energy efficient and enables FreshDirect to transition from cardboard delivery boxes to recyclable bags. There will also be less food waste through a combined approach of innovation and community outreach.

“The launch of the FreshDirect Campus is the culmination of 16 years of learnings that have enabled us to reinvent the grocery industry with customer experience, food quality and sustainability at its core,” says Jason Ackerman, co-founder and CEO. “This marks a pivotal moment for our business, while positioning us for future growth. We can also better serve the community by providing greater access to fresh food and significantly reducing food waste, cardboard use and energy consumption. We are thrilled to officially be a part of the Bronx community, and are very thankful for the local support we’ve received throughout this journey.”

Key initiatives of the new facility include:

Quality and safety

  • Unlike a traditional grocery store, the FDC features temperature-controlled areas designed to best handle and store meat, seafood, produce, deli, bakery and prepared foods along with a specific freezer room for premium ice cream and refrigerated rooms for bananas, tomatoes and onions to make sure each item is in optimal food conditions.
  • All employees, from the fresh food experts that assign the online produce and seafood ratings daily to the “personal shoppers” that handpick every item, have been selected and trained specifically for their tasks.
  • The FDC will reduce the amount of handling and increase the overall quality and consistency of the product for customers, while enhancing FreshDirect’s ability to do quality control in real-time.
  • Every FreshDirect personal shopper works with the same 20-30 fresh products daily, so they can become experts in their select products and better maintain the company’s high-quality standards.
  • FDQC, FreshDirect’s internal quality control app, better monitors, tracks and shares daily quality ratings of every fresh item, enabled by real-time inspection decisions.

Product innovation and mobile convenience

  • The FDC enables the addition of thousands of new products to FreshDirect’s selection, which will be rolled out in the coming months.
  • Highlights of new product offerings include 350-plus new brands, 800-plus new snacking items and 500-plus new organic products.
  • The FDC is built to allow FreshDirect to better supply FoodKick, the company’s on-demand business.
  • Using the Bronx as its new base of operations will allow FreshDirect and FoodKick to build upon existing local vendor relationships and work with even more local suppliers and food incubators.
  • The FDC’s kitchen expansion will enable the company to triple kitchen production and refresh its prepared meals offerings seasonally. The move will also allow the company to hire more culinary experts to its in-house research and development team.

Environmental impact and sustainability

  • Making strides in sustainability, the FDC will eliminate its usage of cardboard delivery boxes by moving all deliveries to a 100% recyclable woven bag, saving more than 10 million cardboard boxes annually.
  • One central refrigerated food facility uses significantly less energy to protect the cold chain and ensures a huge fossil fuel reduction compared to retail brick-and-mortar operations.
  • The carts and pallets used are specifically designed for new delivery methods and make for easy truck loading and unloading, so orders can be delivered faster.
  • The FDC enables FreshDirect to minimize food waste through a combined approach of technological innovation and community outreach.

Employee experience

  • FreshDirect has hired more than 1,500 employees since 2014.
  • The FDC’s cafeteria and employee store provides employees with healthy food choices.
  • Personal shoppers work from a stationary pack station where orders come to them, making for a more efficient and ergonomic environment.

Fighting hunger

  • The FDC is equivalent to 50 grocery stores, and due to its centralized location, provides a more efficient means to reallocate perishables to FreshDirect’s long-standing partners City Harvest, New York, and the Food Bank for New York City, New York, in the fight against hunger.
  • As a top food donor to City Harvest, FreshDirect has donated more than 19 million pounds of nutritious food to date – representing 16 million meals – to help feed New Yorkers in need across the five boroughs.

“When we launched this business 16 years ago, we set out to source the very best fresh food for our customers, and that maniacal focus on food quality is still at our core today. We’ve built a world-class fresh food facility that enables us to better execute our farm to fork mission,” says David McInerney, co-founder and chief food adventurer. “Our FreshDirect Campus empowers our in-house team of food experts to source, prepare, handle and deliver better-tasting, higher-quality food than anyone else.”