UK retailer Co-op and technology company Microsoft are testing a new platform aimed at reducing food waste.
Technology consultancy BJSS and Team ITG are supporting the venture, which is set to be launched by some of the UK’s leading brands.
The platform created by the partners is Caboodle, a not-for-profit digital platform that enables supermarkets, cafés, and restaurants to connect with community groups and volunteers to redistribute surplus food.
According to climate action group Wrap, around 1.1 million tonnes of food goes to waste across the food retail and hospitality sector annually in the UK.
While surplus food redistribution has trebled between 2015 and 20201, there are still 200,000 tonnes that could have been redistributed, the company noted.
Built on Microsoft’s Power Platform technology, Caboodle aims to create a single platform where food retailers and businesses across the hospitality sector can connect with volunteers and community groups across the UK 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 is currently being trialled in Co-op's food stores in Northern Ireland, Milton Keynes, and London, and will go 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 allow them 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.
Community groups will 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, Co-op added.