Efficient supply chains and redistribution of food is more important now than ever. On Friday the UK government introduced a £3.25 million fund for organisations working in food redistribution to help cut food waste during the COVID-19 outbreak. The fund has been introduced alongside a number of government measures to safeguard supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cafes, restaurants and bars were told to close their doors (other than for take away) on 20th March. Businesses were suddenly met with large stock rooms of food and no prospects of customer service. In some cases, this lead to mass donations of free food to frontline workers or it resulted in mass food wastage. In other cases, businesses have pivoted and using technology have transformed their restaurant or café into a take away food stall. There are some truly inspiring stories of transformation.
How has technology managed with the uplift in demand for food delivery during COVID -19? Online delivery services and apps are being used to transform restaurant kitchens into take away and delivery solutions. Ocado supermarket was forced to close its online shopping website for a few days as its delivery platform could not cope with the increase in customer traffic. If businesses who are already set up for online delivery are strained, how do new take-away businesses stay afloat?
Before COVID-19 businesses were increasingly using 'click and collect' technology to predict demand and increase the number of orders made a day. The 'click and collect' data, if harnessed successfully, was being used to streamline supply chains by predicting what customers would order and at what time of day. There is opportunity in today's world of online delivery and take away for the data collected from delivery apps to be analysed to accurately predict what food should be ordered, when demand will be highest (requiring increased delivery support) and help reduce food waste during this time where redistribution a priority.
Food redistribution organisations across England will benefit from £3.25 million of government funding to help them cut food waste and redistribute up to 14,000 tonnes of surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak.