JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Southeastern Grocers Inc., the parent company and home of Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, announced a partnership with Relocalize to pilot ice manufacturing in the world’s first autonomous micro-factory, designed to help eliminate middle-mile logistics to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, water waste and plastic pollution to nourish both people and the planet.
The new ice micro-factory was unveiled at the grocer’s Jacksonville Distribution Center, located at 15500 W. Beaver St., where a ribbon made of 200 pounds of ice was ceremoniously cut with a chainsaw by SEG and Relocalize leadership to celebrate the achievement.
SEG and Relocalize are committed to revolutionizing the food industry with the introduction of this first local micro-factory that is centrally managed by an AI-powered software platform and utilizes robotics for 100% of production labor. This innovative and automated manufacturing process allows the grocer to scale production and create waste-reduction solutions throughout the full lifecycle of the product – all at a lower economic and environmental cost.
Through this partnership, SEG has also introduced Party Cubes, the world’s first hyper-local, certified plastic-negative, packaged ice that is produced on-site and on-demand at the new micro-factory. This fresh, premium ice product is now available at two Jacksonville locations, including the Lakewood Winn-Dixie store and the grocer’s stand-alone liquor store, WDs Wine, Beer and Liquor in the nearby Miramar neighborhood, with considerations to expand to the broader market in the future.
Anthony Hucker, President and CEO for Southeastern Grocers, said, “Our partnership with Relocalize meets at the intersection of sustainability and innovation and provides a unique opportunity to offer our customers better ice, in a better package, at a better price – that’s also better for the planet. We plan to pilot ice manufacturing in the world’s first autonomous ice micro-factory in our hometown of Jacksonville, and we are excited to now offer Party Cubes in select local stores as we test and learn with the industry's first hyper-local, certified plastic-negative, packaged ice. We believe it’s our responsibility to be leaders of change, and we continue to push forward for a brighter future for our people, products and planet.”
Party Cubes are a super-premium cubed ice made efficiently, locally and on-demand. Party Cubes also store better and cost less for consumers compared to traditional bagged ice, and the smaller, leak-proof packaging is 100% recycle-ready. For every one pound of plastic used in packaging, Relocalize will remove and recycle two pounds of ocean plastic. Additionally, the process produces zero water waste (compared to 50% normally) and reduces trucking carbon dioxide emissions by 90%.
Wayne McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder for Relocalize, said, “Two years ago, we set out on a mission to decarbonize food supply chains. Today, fully autonomous hyper-local food manufacturing becomes a reality through our partnership with Southeastern Grocers. This premier packaged ice micro-factory represents a fundamental shift in how packaged food is produced and distributed, ushering in the era of the one-step food journey from production to consumption.”
SEG’s partnership with Relocalize bolsters its wholehearted commitment to sustainability, product innovation, convenience and value. Additionally, SEG is diligently working to increase sustainability for its Own Brand packaging by the end of 2028 by eliminating the use of polystyrene, making all packaging reusable, recyclable or industrially compostable, and including an average of 30% post-consumer recycled material in all Own Brand packaging. SEG also continues to work closely with supplier partners and stakeholders throughout its southeast footprint of stores to work toward additional industry established sustainable, high-quality products and packaging goals.
SEG has cultivated its sustainability journey to align its environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including industry, innovation and infrastructure, along with responsible consumption and production. The grocer takes pride in being a trusted retailer that recognizes the importance of taking purposeful steps for lasting change while putting the people of today and tomorrow first and consistently weaving sustainability into the service of its people, products and planet.