A new platform designed to reduce food waste is being trialled before being launched with the backing of major UK brands. Caboodle is 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 today, around £4 billion of food equating to 1.1 million tonnes goes to waste across the food retail and hospitality sector every year.
While overall surplus food redistribution has trebled between 2015 and 20201, there are still 200,000 tonnes that could have been redistributed.
In response, Co-Op and Microsoft have partnered, supported by technology consultancy BJSS and Team ITG, to create Caboodle and tackle the issue. The platform directly links those with surplus food to organisations who can redistribute it where it is needed.
For supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, Caboodle allows them to share their surplus food online daily, 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 and gain access to volunteers easily via a digital noticeboard.
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.
Richard Smith, deputy head of food supply at the Felix Project commented: “As a charity which has tested Caboodle and is already seeing the benefits, we know it will make a real difference to others like ourselves.
“The process for us is just easier and unlike other systems it works in a way that allows us to notify stores if we can’t make our collection slots – offering the slot to another group nearby saving food from going to waste at a time when so many are in need of it.”
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.
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.”