Business

Neighbourly app for food redistribution launched

Neighbourly app for food redistribution launched
Tina Magee from the Upper Horfield Community Trust collects surplus food from M&S Cribbs Causeway
Neighbourly, a social platform that seeks to connect local community projects with companies, yesterday (7 December) launched Neighbourly Food, a new service designed to address the logistical problems involved with redistributing surplus food.

The app allows businesses including retailers, supermarkets, grocers, manufacturers and food distributers to offer their excess food by uploading what’s available, its location for collection and expiry date. Local charities and food banks that have registered with the service for free can then claim what they need and also publicise their food requirements.

According to research carried out by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year at a cost of £5 billion. A petition urging supermarkets to deliver surplus food to charities and vulnerable people has now attracted over 185,000 signatures. The petition was created following action in France to oblige supermarkets to redistribute unused food. In France, this ultimately resulted in a voluntary agreement signed in August, while in the UK a draft law on food waste reduction was introduced to Parliament (with a second reading due next year).

Despite this increased action on food redistribution, Neighbourly says that local charities and causes that need donations are ‘often invisible to potential food donors’, while businesses lack a platform through which to find causes and manage their contributions.

In addition to matching food donations to causes, Neighbourly Food has features intended to support the back office logistical requirements of participating businesses to help manage and report food re-distribution data.

Simplifying process

On the launch of the platform, Luke McKeever, Chief Executive Officer of Neighbourly, said: “With over 288,000 tonnes of food wasted in the UK every week, UK business needs to play its part and do a better job of getting surplus food to the people who need it.

“We make that process simpler and easier for both businesses and causes. Our aim is to recruit more causes around the UK as well as more donating businesses. The more people participate, the more effective we can be.”

Supermarkets increasingly acting on food waste

Nationwide retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has already adopted Neighbourly to support its national surplus food redistribution scheme as part of its sustainability plan. Over the course of a six-store pilot, almost four tonnes of excess food was redistributed in three months, and M&S says that it ‘aims to have 150 stores participating by December and network-wide adoption by early next year’.

Other supermarkets have addressed food waste in partnerships with different charities and through using different technology.

The Co-operative Food launched a partnership with food redistribution charity FareShare to provide surplus chilled items to projects making meals for vulnerable people. The nationwide scheme followed a trial at the supermarket’s depot in Derbyshire, where 32 tonnes of food were redistributed over the course of 10 weeks, contributing, the store says, towards over 76,000 meals.

In June, Tesco launched a similar pilot scheme with FareShare and Irish social enterprise FoodCloud. Store managers in 10 selected UK branches of the supermarket use the FoodCloud app to alert local charities to the amount of surplus food available, allowing them to claim it and pick it up for free.

The scheme has already been implemented in all Tesco stores in Ireland, and estimates that the UK scheme could prevent 30,000 tonnes of edible surplus food being wasted.

More information on the app can be found on Neighbourly’s website

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