Food Connect Pilot Report 2021

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Taking good food further P I LOT R E P O RT 2021

Food Connect Hubbub has trialed a professional food surplus redistribution service in Milton Keynes using a small fleet of electric vehicles. Food Connect tackles the ‘final mile’ challenge by delivering great surplus food to community groups who can share it quickly. Over the first year, we sought to find out whether:



1 the service would improve surplus food redistribution for retailers, community groups and end users

the quantity of food collected would increase, and the quality would improve

£ we could develop a cost effective and efficient model that creates fair, green jobs


Summary findings The pilot resulted in:

A simpler donation experience for food businesses

A significant rise in the quantity and quality of food collected

An efficient model that guarantees surplus goes to human consumption

We believe that the Food Connect model can provide an agile, local solution to a national challenge. We are seeking partners to extend the pilot in Milton Keynes and set up in additional locations in the UK. This report sets out what we learned from the pilot, and benefits for food businesses, community groups and others in redistribution.

“The Milton Keynes trial has gone brilliantly, demonstrating a clear increase in the amount of great quality food redistributed into the local community. The “last mile” is always challenging, to see reductions in both food waste and emissions (due to the electric vehicles used) really is a double win!” Lee Porter, FareShare


172 tonnes of food saved (That’s almost 409,500 meals worth)

Six green jobs created

Food Connect in numbers

2.3 tonnes of transport emissions saved The food saved was associated with GHG emissions of at least 49 tonnes Two e-cargo bikes One electric van


Despite significant progress on reducing waste across sectors over recent years, WRAP estimates that a vast quantity of surplus remains in the UK food system. The last or final mile is the most inefficient in redistribution. Food at this stage is close to its end of life and redistribution often depends on collections by small voluntary organisations. Hubbub has been collaborating with PwC and local authorities, retailers and others in redistribution to test ideas such as Food Connect for improving community access to ‘final mile’ surplus.

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Why Food Connect?

w does Food Ho Co Food Connect consolidates surplus available via FareShare Go and other notification services to a single account, on behalf of local community groups.

A dispatcher plans a route based on food available on a given day and a knowledgeable, professional courier collects at the appointed time.

Local groups receive an equitable share of available food.



kgs saved

Food saved


Benefits for business • Food Connect offers a single point of contact for donations.

“Food Connect is very good, and the people who come to collect are consistent. It’s nice that they bring a trolley too. The coordinator always communicates about timings.” Alex, Store Manager Lidl Wolverton, February 2020

• Couriers are equipped to take the food away quickly, whatever the quantity. • The team is trained in manual handling and food safety and offer great customer service. • We can provide data for sustainability reporting, and rich stories of how surplus is used in the community.

Donations are almost guaranteed to be collected or ‘completed’. FareShare Go has seen a completion rate of 100% for donations offered to Food Connect.



Who can donate through Food Conect?

Redistribution services


Small producers



Case study:

Engaging small format stores We tested Food Connect with eight small format retail stores which were donating little to local groups.

Table 2 represents the growth in donations once we created a dedicated route for this group of stores. The quality and suitability of the food offered also improved significantly over the test period.

kgs saved

Table 2: Small format stores

Weekly collections from September to December 2020


Benefits for redistribution services • Food redistribution in the UK is sophisticated but complex, with natural gaps in provision. Food Connect captures amounts that are too small or unsuitable for bigger redistributors. • We also support the efficiency of services such as FareShare Go and help drive down ‘no shows’. • Hubbub has strong links with community groups across the UK where food can be used.


What’s next? Our ambition over the coming 12 months is to extend the service in Milton Keynes, and set up in a small number of additional locations in the UK. This will allow us to further test how Food Connect can resolve local challenges to the national redistribution infrastructure. Extending the service in Milton Keynes will also allow us to test ways to build in sustainability/revenue generation to the services’ funding model. Our aim is that this will lead to further efficiencies that will allow us to operate at greater scale. Our proposed operations model empowers a local team to shape and deliver the service with support from Hubbub. Hubbub will support on set up, hiring, developing operation systems and ensuring the service is compliant with our rigorous safety and risk processes. Riders and driver manage their own routes and schedules, coordinated by a Lead Rider/Driver.


Thanks to: CAF Venturesome, the National Lottery Community Fund, Costa Coffee and Bosch for supporting and funding the Food Connect Covid response and pilot. FareShare and SOFEA for being open to collaboration. All food businesses in the Milton Keynes area that have supported with donations of surplus. The Old Bath House Community Centre in Wolverton for hosting the service. Various community groups in Milton Keynes for trying something new, and all the volunteers who helped to get us up and running. And last but certainly not least, Helen, Dave, Angela, Ritchie, Louise, Steve, Mark, Jo who have braved the worst of weather and given it their all to make the pilot a success. They are true food waste warriors!



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