WILMINGTON — Earth Fare, an Asheville-based grocery chain specializing in organic and natural foods, will open a 22,700-square-foot store in Wilmington on Wednesday. It will be the company’s 48th location since it began in 1978 — 11th in its home state of North Carolina.
The grocery store is the anchor tenant for the new Renaissance Market, a development on Military Cutoff Road spearheaded by Wilmington resident Randy Kelley of Harbor Retail Partners in partnership with Trask Land Company.
“Wilmington is a vibrant market,” Earth Fare CEO Frank Scorpiniti said, adding that the store’s location along the development-heavy N.C. 17 corridor north to Hampstead was an important strategic decision for the company.
The Wilmington location is part of a broader plan to expand to cities along the southeastern coast — construction will begin on a Myrtle Beach store in mid-to-late 2019, Scorpiniti said.
Earthfare markets itself as a niche provider of foods that have no added hormones, artificial or trans fats, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromate flour, or any meats given antibiotics, according to Scorpiniti.
The Wilmington location will feature a non-GMO bakery, juice and smoothie bar, and butcher and seafood counter. Locally sourced, wild caught seafood options will include flounder, striped bass, Black Sea bass, triggerfish, and speckled sea trout.
Scorpiniti said there will be an area dedicated to bulk organic goods, where customers can package their own preferred quantities in plastic bags, as well as a machine where customers can grind six versions of nut butter.
The store will also offer CBD products to help with stress relief, muscle aches, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
“There are no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors anywhere in our store … About 70 percent of our produce is organic — that’s the highest rate in the industry,” Scorpiniti said.
Scorpiniti said because families should be able to eat clean foods on an affordable budget, Earth Fare’s Clean Food Security menu will offer dinners prepared in-house for families of four at $70 a week.
“We thought this was an important mission seeing that Americans’ life expectancy the past two years has actually gone down, which is shocking given that we’re the most wealthy nation in the world,” Scorpiniti said.
The National Center for Health Statistics released a report last December revealing life expectancy in the U.S. had dropped for the second consecutive year, marking the first downturn in more than two decades.
Scorpiniti attributed the trend to to increasing cases of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, which often result from an unhealthy diet at an early age.
“We believe that if people eat a healthy diet when they’re young, we can prevent these diseases from occurring, and people can live a healthier lifestyle,” Scorpiniti said.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@localvoicemedia.com