A major new platform to help reduce food waste is being tested and set to launch by some of the UK’s biggest brands.
Founding partners Co-op and Microsoft, backed by technology consultancy BJSS and Team ITG, created Caboodle, a nonprofit digital platform that enables supermarkets, cafes and restaurants to connect with community groups and businesses. volunteers to redistribute surplus food.
In the UK, around 1.1 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in the food retail and hospitality sector, according to WRAP figures.
While the overall redistribution of food surpluses tripled between 2015 and 20201, there are still 200,000 tonnes that could have been redistributed but were not.
The more organizations use Caboodle, the easier and more efficient it will be for volunteers and community groups to access good food.
Built on Microsoft’s Power Platform technology, Caboodle aims to create a single place where food retailers and businesses in the hospitality sector can connect with volunteers and community groups in every city and town across the UK, helping to share food when and where it is. necessary.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, acting CEO of the cooperative, said: “The amount of surplus good quality food that is currently not redistributed is staggering.
“We are currently testing the caboodle in over 100 grocery stores and the results we are seeing so far are amazing. We will be rolling it out across our domain next month and hope that all other retailers and hospitality businesses will also see the benefits.
“The more organizations use Caboodle, the easier and more efficient it will be for volunteers and community groups to access great food.”
The platform, which is currently being tested in Co-op grocery stores in Northern Ireland, Milton Keynes and London, will go live next month in a further 2,500 grocery stores. Community groups outside these areas can sign up now to be notified when Caboodle operates in their area at group.thecaboodle.co.uk
It is open to charities and community groups of all kinds, from food banks and family support networks to youth groups, schools and more.
For supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, Caboodle means they will be able to share their excess food daily online in an easier and more cost-effective way, using live notifications to alert charities when more slots are available.
Innovations like Caboodle that can help overcome common barriers and facilitate the redistribution of surplus food are truly exciting and have the potential to make serious inroads into the 200,000 tonnes that WRAP estimates could still be redistributed.
Meanwhile, community groups will save time by having the ability to book and schedule time slots, receive live notifications when new time slots are available, and easily access volunteers through a digital bulletin board.
Estelle Herszenhorn, Food Officer, WRAP, said: “Redistribution of surplus food has been successful in recent years. 320,000 tonnes of food were avoided between 2015 and 2020, worth £1 billion, and providing the equivalent of 220 million meals. But a lot more good food is still going to waste that could feed people.
“Innovations like Caboodle that can help overcome common barriers and facilitate the redistribution of surplus food are truly exciting and have the potential to make serious inroads into the 200,000 tonnes that WRAP estimates could still be redistributed. .”
The platform is currently being tested with support from environmental charity Hubbub through the Community Fridge Network.
Alex Robinson, CEO of Hubbub, said: “We are delighted to support the development of Caboodle by providing community insights and testing the platform with our community fridge in Milton Keynes.
“We are passionate about supporting initiatives that help reduce food waste and have a positive impact on the environment. »
Caboodle will also highlight volunteer opportunities through its online bulletin board. People who want to volunteer to help redistribute food can enter their postcode to find a local group they’d like to work with to make a difference.
Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, commented: “One of the best things about Caboodle is not just the impact it will have, but also the fact that it came from a chance conversation between a Microsoft employee and a Co-op store manager on how to stop good food going to waste. Low-code development using Microsoft Power Platform means anyone can turn big ideas into real solutions.