Strike action at US food distributor United Natural Foods has ended with talks between the company and union officials planned for next week.

Staff at a UNFI site in Washington state held industrial action for two days amid claims the company had refused to hold talks on pay and amid claims it had broken labour rules.

However, the strike ended at 15:30 PST after UNFI accepted an offer from staff to return to work. Talks are set to be held next Thursday (20 December).

"We are pleased to announce the end of the strike. We intend to hold UNFI to its stated commitment to return to the bargaining table and bargain a fair contract in good-faith with its employees," Tracey Thompson, secretary-treasurer of the local branch of the Teamsters union, said.

After day one of the strike, UNFI said it was "surprised and disappointed" at the industrial action. "UNFI offered to return to the bargaining table as recently as yesterday, yet the union elected to go out on strike," it said. The distributor also brushed off claims it had broken labour laws.

However, Chris Tarrats, a UNFI driver, said it was "important" staff "sent a message" to the company.

"The strike sent a strong message to UNFI that it needs to respect its workers and respect the bargaining process. My co-workers and I felt it was important to send that message, but also to keep the strike short so that we would minimise the disruption and inconvenience to our customers during the holiday season."

UNFI was not available for immediate comment.