Retailers slash food wastage with collaborative social network
A dedicated business social network is helping the restaurant and food retail industries to interact with charities and fight the food surplus, supplying meals to the hungry. With a staggering 650,000 tonnes of food wasted annually by retailers in the UK, dedicated technology is helping make the change.
the last couple of years, Plan Zheroes, an organisation focused on eliminating food
wastage and helping the hungry, has set up a vital business social network that
connects major retailers and the third sector. We can now take much more food
before it is thrown out, and supply it to those in urgent need of nourishment.
worked for some time with phone-based processes, we decided an internet-based
solution was necessary. In the past, when attempting to contact cafes and
restaurants that have excess food, charities in need of food, and those in
between transporting the items, extensive phone calls were necessary. When
juggling literally tons of food, much of which would go off quickly, this was
not a good enough solution.
Building a business social network
need for change was clear. At Plan Zheroes, we work with a number of major retailers
and cafes, including Paul UK, Le Pain Quotidien and Budgens, as well as other
locations including the Langham Hotel and London's Borough Market. We also
partner with charities including the Red Cross UK, New Horizon and the Abbey
Centre. All of these organisations, and more, will access our system.
volume of food to transport is huge. As an example, in eight months we were able
to save at least nine tonnes of food from wastage at Borough market alone. That
work provided 20,000 meals and helped 1,000 people in need.
the partners we work with and the sheer volume of food to transport, phoning
around was not efficient enough to manage our processes, and we had to set up
proper technology-based collaboration. Our answer was in the cloud, with a focused
business social network that would resemble
those used in people's free time, but that would have dedicated workplace
the moment, the system is being used by early adopters. We believe that as more
of the businesses and charities come on board, it will enable us to be much
and will equally save them a lot of time.
retailers, using the system is as simple as selecting the food available from a
drop -down menu, and for the charities it is as easy as setting the delivery
time they want to receive the products. Our volunteer drivers are then notified
that there is a job available and they can reply to it. All of the
functionality is available online and through smartphone apps.
Making it work
are clear benefits to using a social network, starting with the ability to put
all of the information in one place and connect everyone there. It is much
easier for us to identify and match the different organisations, while being
more straightforward for them to upload their offers and needs.
2013, we began to expand our online plans for the system, and realised it had
to be easily accessible, while simply providing the functions needed so it is
quick to use. On January 29 this year, we went live, and as we get more
companies and charities on board, we are tweaking the technology to make it
even more efficient.
using cloud-based technology, it also gives us much more freedom as we don't
have to constantly manage the infrastructure or handle a growing scale. While
currently we have major activity in London, as well as Brighton, Sheffield, and
Oxford, we have strong expansion plans, with pilots going ahead in Liverpool
and soon we hope to be working in Wales.
even have conversations going on with the Portuguese government as we view
international expansion. We are keen not to grow beyond our abilities, and
having the right tools in place helps us to handle this change.
so many unknown factors, including the availability of food and of drivers,
using a dedicated business social network enables us to control our operations
much better. We can systematise effectively, by knowing the sources of food and
the type generally available, the destinations in need, the drivers with time,
and linking all of those factors together.
out our job in fast-changing circumstances, and avoiding the stretch from
scaling up quickly, are now much more realistic and manageable tasks.