Several top brands, along with retailer Co-op and Microsoft, have begun to trial a massive project called Caboodle that aims to dramatically cut down on food waste in the UK.
With more than 1.1 million tonnes of food going into the bin, co-founder Co-op and others want to find a way to both eliminate that from happening and be able to distribute far more surplus food to charitable organisations through Caboodle group.thecaboodle.co.uk. The new non-for-profit digital platform would better connect supermarkets and foodservice entities to those centres and volunteers serving communities.
“The amount of good quality surplus food that’s not currently being redistributed is astounding,” Shirine Khoury-Haq, Interim CEO of the Co-op said. “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.”
Leaders from the groups say that awareness has heightened about delivering to those in need, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the process can often be cumbersome for those on the charity side. They say some 200,000 tonnes of food each year that could be used simply ends up going to waste.
“Surplus food redistribution has been a success story over recent years,” Estelle Herszenhorn, food lead at WRAP said. “320,000 tonnes of food was saved from going to waste between 2015 and 2020 worth £1 billion, and providing the equivalent of 220 million meals. But much more good food is still going to waste that could feed people. Innovations like Caboodle that can help to overcome common barriers and ease redistribution of surplus food are really exciting and have the potential to make serious inroads into the 200,000 tonnes that WRAP estimates could still be redistributed.”
Caboodle, however, ensures a more streamlined method for all involved under the Microsoft’s Power Platform technology, hosting a single place where retailers, cafes and restaurants can connect with community organization when needed, cutting down on needless red tape. In fact, they can reach out to volunteers the same day through live notifications and alerts. Charities can set up schedules and slots when availability exists.
Caboodle, which is being utilized in several of Co-op’s food stores in Northern Ireland, Milton Keynes and London, will be placed in 2,500 more food stores soon, providing a huge win for organisations and even youth groups.
“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,” Richard Smith, Deputy Head of Food Supply at The Felix Project said. “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.”