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News ReleaseAir Products’ Hydrogen Fueling Technology Selected for Warehouse Environmental Makeover at UNFI Distribution Center in Florida

April 28, 2010 Lehigh Valley, Pa.

Air Products (NYSE: APD) today announced that its hydrogen fueling technology for the material handling market is being installed at the Sarasota, Florida distribution center of United Natural Foods, Inc. (Nasdaq: UNFI). Air Products’ technology will fuel 65 fuel cell-powered lift trucks that will be mobilized at the distribution facility moving consumer goods on a daily basis. The equipment for the 352,000 square-foot Sarasota facility, which serves as a regional distribution hub for customers in Southeastern United States, is targeted to be operational by the end of June 2010.

“It is exciting and understandable that UNFI has made this conversion decision to hydrogen-powered material handling equipment. Air Products’ portfolio in this market includes multiple installations around the United States fueling over 300 material handling units. We have heard a lot of positive comments from our customers, the users of this new technology who are realizing the benefits of the hydrogen economy in this application,” said Mike Doud, business development manager for Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products.

Air Products will supply the hydrogen as well as its compression, storage and two indoor hydrogen dispensing units. UNFI will add 29 new hydrogen fuel cell-powered lift trucks to its fleet and 36 existing lift trucks will be retrofitted to hydrogen fuel cell technology. Details on Air Products’ hydrogen fueling station technologies are provided at www.airproducts.com/h2energy.  

UNFI looked to this initiative to replace lead acid batteries and their associated charging equipment with hydrogen fuel cells as part of its culture of social responsibility and its commitment to using clean energy, as well as to improve efficiency, productivity and reliability. “We consider environmental stewardship an essential component in every facet of our business. This hydrogen fuel cell project extends our commitment as an environmentally-conscious organization,” commented Steven Spinner, UNFI’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

As background, a hydrogen fuel cell produces energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical reaction that yields electricity, heat and water. Hydrogen is non-toxic, non-poisonous, the lightest of all gases, and the most abundant element in the universe. By converting UNFI’s Sarasota lift truck fleet to hydrogen fuel cells, the company expects carbon emissions will be reduced by approximately 132 metric tons annually, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 35 automobiles.

Tom Dziki, UNFI’s senior vice president of Sustainable Development, commented, “Hydrogen fuel cells not only provide greater productivity and lower operating costs, but will be an important component of a clean energy future. Once implemented, this fuel cell project is expected to create annual energy savings of approximately 640,000 kilowatt hours.”

There are many advantages to using hydrogen-powered forklifts and other material handling equipment. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment needs refueling once or twice daily, depending on use. In contrast, traditional battery-powered equipment must be placed temporarily out of operation for battery replacement and required battery recharging approximately every four to six hours. Hydrogen fuel cell-powered equipment provides consistent power strength during use and does not experience decreased performance or wear down as traditional lead-acid battery units do as they near a required battery change out or recharge time. Additionally, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts are not adversely impacted by temperature or by operating in coolers and freezers, in comparison to traditional battery performance. Further, hydrogen-powered fuel cell equipment is more environmentally friendly because it does not involve lead-acid battery storage and disposal issues.

Air Products’ hydrogen fueling technology is currently being used to fuel over 300 material handling vehicles including: fuel cell-powered pallet trucks at Wegmans Retail Service Center in Pottsville, Pa.; fuel cell-powered lift trucks at Central Grocers’ new distribution center in Joliet, Ill.; hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts at Nestlé Waters North America in Dallas, Tex.; hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts at the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna Pennsylvania in New Cumberland, Pa.; as well as hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts at several other customers in the United States. In addition, mobile fueling equipment unique and patented by Air Products has been and continues to be deployed to a variety of customers for the purpose of demonstrating the technology in real world conditions.

Air Products, the leading hydrogen supplier to refineries to assist in making cleaner burning transportation fuels, has unique experience in the hydrogen fueling industry. In fact, in certain market applications, fueling rates of over 10,000 refills per year are occurring. These applications provide an opportunity to assess consumer experiences, evaluate product performance and to advance product improvements. The company has placed over 110 hydrogen fueling stations in the United States and 18 countries worldwide. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, other material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled with this trend-setting technology that involves Air Products’ know-how, equipment, and hydrogen. Use of the company’s technology is increasing and is currently at 175,000 hydrogen fills per year.

Air Products has more than 50 years of hydrogen experience and is on the forefront of hydrogen energy technology development. Air Products has an extensive patent portfolio with over 50 patents in hydrogen dispensing technology. Air Products provides liquid and gaseous hydrogen, and HCNG (hydrogen/compressed natural gas) fueling, and has developed a variety of enabling devices and protocols for fuel dispensing at varied pressures. Hydrogen for these stations is delivered to a site via truck, produced by natural gas reformation, biomass conversion, or by electrolysis, including electrolysis that is solar and wind driven.

About Air Products

Air Products (NYSE:APD) serves customers in industrial, energy, technology and healthcare markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment and services. Founded in 1940, Air Products has built leading positions in key growth markets such as semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, home healthcare services, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. The company is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment. In fiscal 2009, Air Products had revenues of $8.3 billion, operations in over 40 countries, and 18,900 employees around the globe. For more information, visit www.airproducts.com.  

About UNFI

United Natural Foods, Inc. carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to more than 17,000 customer locations nationwide. The Company serves a wide variety of retail formats including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the food service channel. United Natural Foods, Inc. was ranked by Forbes in 2005 as one of the "Best Managed Companies in America," ranked by Fortune in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 as one of its "Most Admired Companies," winner of the Supermarket News 2008 Sustainability Excellence Award, and recognized by the Nutrition Business Journal for its 2009 Environment and Sustainability Award. For more information, visit http://www.unfi.com.

AIR PRODUCTS NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements. Actual results could vary materially, due to changes in current expectations.

UNFI "Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding United Natural Foods business that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties and are based on current expectations and management estimates; actual results may differ materially. The risks and uncertainties which could impact these statements are described in the Company's filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including its annual report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 30, 2009 and its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed thereafter, and include, but are not limited to, the Company's dependence on principal customers; the Company's sensitivity to general economic conditions, including the current economic environment, changes in disposable income levels and consumer spending trends; increased fuel costs; the Company's sensitivity to inflationary pressures; the relatively low margins and economic sensitivity of the Company's business; the ability to identify and successfully complete acquisitions of other natural, organic and specialty food and related product distributors; and management's allocation of capital and the timing of capital expenditures. Any forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and, as such, speak only as of the date made. The Company is not undertaking to update any information in the foregoing reports until the effective date of its future reports required by applicable laws. Any projections of future results of operations are based on a number of assumptions, many of which are outside the Company's control and should not be construed in any manner as a guarantee that such results will in fact occur. These projections are subject to change and could differ materially from final reported results. The Company may from time to time update these publicly announced projections, but it is not obligated to do so.

Media Inquiries: 
(UNFI)
Joe Calabrese
Tel: (212) 827-3772

Investor Inquiries: 
(UNFI)
Mark Shamber
Tel: (401) 528-8634 

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Contact Information

  • Press Contact
    Art George
    610-481-1340
    Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
    7201 Hamilton Boulevard
    Allentown, PA 18195-1501
    USA
  • Investor Contact
    Simon Moore
    (610) 481-7461
    Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
    7201 Hamilton Boulevard
    Allentown, PA 18195-1501
    USA
    (610) 481-2729
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A man using a hydrogen fuel forklift in a warehouse.

UNFI Distribution Center Photos

Hydrogen-powered forklift moves warehouse goods

Hydrogen Powered Forklift

UNFI Distribution Center Photos

A hydrogen-powered forklift fueled by Air Products' hydrogen

Hydrogen Forklift Fueler

UNFI Distribution Center Photos

Air Products hydrogen fueling dispenser

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