The UK has experienced a crisis of diet-related health problems in recent years like obesity and diabetes, while levels of food poverty are on the increase. This problem is global and is also affecting other European cities. 43 million people in the EU cannot afford a second quality meal every day. Yet, paradoxically, 20% of the total food produced in the EU is lost or wasted.
Feeding Coventry was looking for an innovative technological solution to enable real-time identification of surplus food (supermarkets, shops, etc), match this food with communities in need (organisations and individuals), map out transportation routes and organise timely collection and distribution. They started looking for the solution by way of the Social Challenges Innovation Platform, which used challenge-based innovation to boost entrepreneurship and solve local problems.
A Spanish SME (Aslogic) had an innovative idea to solve this issue. Its name is FetCet (Feeding Communities Empowering Technologies), and it is a simple yet powerful platform for managing food surpluses, enabling efficient collection from supermarkets and optimising food distribution through route planning. This also reduces fuel consumption and other transport costs, so that the NGO can contribute to environmental sustainability while it carries out its commendable social work.
FetCet is like an online food bank - supermarkets announce their surplus food and NGOs receive notifications through the online application. This model is a win-win for both parties, as on one hand supermarkets get tax advantages by making more donations, and on the other hand, NGOs get food for free or at a low price.
The FetCet platform is divided into five different inter-connected modules, each one providing all relevant actors with the functionalities required to manage food surplus efficiently:
- A back office system: Using this system, donors, workers and clients can be characterised. Collecting in-depth, personalised information in this way helps FetCet to better understand individual needs and improve the service. Special attention was taken to characterise the customer (number of family members, nutritional needs) and their evolving needs, thanks to the support services offered by Foleshill Community Center.
- A stock management tool to characterise the products stocked in the warehouse, which sends an alert if there is any danger of a stock-out.
- Electronic Points of Sales (EPOS) characterises the sales of each member of the community
- Donor webpage: This tool feeds donors with updates on which products are required by the NGOs and communities.
- FECET donation: Through this website Foleshill Community centre can offer any surplus food products that they have collected to other associations.
Each of the modules of the FECET tool was co-developed with the Feeding Coventry team and have been implemented since the summer of 2019. This initiative was only possible thanks to the Social Challenges Innovation Platform, which united both parties, allowing them to work together until they reached the final result. "The Innovation Platform was a unique opportunity to network at European level and expand our business idea into other countries," says Jose Luis Muñoz, Aslogic Technical Director. For the moment, the FetCet platform is also being used in Spain and France and its founders are looking for opportunities to expand it into other countries.
Discover more about challenge-based innovation: Innovation Platform
Pitch: FECET: Feeding Communities Empowering Technology
Challenge: Food Poverty – Managing surplus food