Co-op and Microsoft team up to create a new platform tackling food waste
A major new platform to help reduce food waste is currently being trialled and set to be launched by some of the UK’s leading brands.
Founding partners Co-op and Microsoft, supported by technology consultancy BJSS and Team ITG, have created Caboodle, a not-for-profit digital platform that enables supermarkets, cafés and restaurants to connect with community groups and volunteers to redistribute surplus food.
In the UK around 1.1 million tonnes of food goes to waste across the food retail and hospitality sector annually.
Whilst many are working hard to help combat food waste, the process remains cumbersome for community groups. So whilst overall surplus food redistribution has trebled between 2015 and 20201, there are still 200,000 tonnes that could have been redistributed but has not.
Built on Microsoft’s Power Platform technology, Caboodle aims to create a single place where food retailers and businesses across the hospitality sector can connect with volunteers and community groups in every city, town and village in the UK, helping to share food when and where it is needed.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, Interim CEO of the Co-op said: “The amount of good quality surplus food that’s not currently being redistributed is astounding.
“We’re currently trialling caboodle in over 100 food stores and the results we’re seeing so far are incredible. We’ll be rolling it out across our entire estate next month and hope that all other retailers and businesses within hospitality will see the benefit too.
“The more organisations use Caboodle the simpler and more effective it will be for volunteers and community groups to gain access to good food.”
The platform, which is currently being trialled in Co-op’s food stores in Northern Ireland, Milton Keynes and London goes live next month across a further 2,500 food stores.
It’s 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 will mean they’ll be able to share their surplus food online daily in an easier and more cost-effective way, using live notifications to alert charities when more slots are available.
Meanwhile, for community groups they’ll save time by having the opportunity to book and schedule slots, receive live notifications when new slots are available and gain access to volunteers easily via a digital noticeboard.
Alex Robinson CEO of Hubbub said: “We’re pleased to be supporting the development of Caboodle by providing insight from communities and trialling the platform with our Milton Keynes Community Fridge. We’re passionate about supporting initiatives that help to reduce food waste and have a positive impact on the environment.”
Caboodle will also highlight volunteering opportunities through its online noticeboard. 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.
Furthermore, it is hoped that Caboodle will even encourage the creation of new food charities by making surplus food so readily available for sharing.
Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK commented: “One of the best things about Caboodle is not just the impact it will have, but also that it came from a chance conversation between a Microsoft employee and a Co-op store manager about how to stop good food going to waste. Low code development using the Microsoft Power Platform, means anyone can turn great ideas into real solutions.”
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