Fareshare rescues surplus UK food to feed the vulnerable with Future Processing

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FareShare is the UK’s longest running food redistribution charity fighting hunger and food waste across the nation. With the help of 1,500 volunteers, FareShare is able to redistribute good food that would otherwise go to waste to almost 11,000 frontline charities and community groups that support vulnerable people in over 320 towns and cities. To date, the organisation has donated almost 25,000 tonnes of food to charities providing the equivalent of 57.3 million meals to vulnerable people. 

As with every great initiative, there is always more that can be done to reach new heights and achieve breakthroughs. FareShare is no different and will not rest until every mouth is fed. The organisation hopes to increase its year-on-year growth and gather as much surplus food as possible so that it can deliver more meals to those who need it most. 

One size does not fit all

The charity does not fit the mould of a standard warehousing solution, receiving surplus food donations from various sources everyday – whether it’s from farmer’s fields, manufacturers or retailers. One of the biggest challenges that FareShare faced was achieving full visibility in terms of processing every delivery coming in and going out. As a food regulated operation, the organisation needs to ensure that every item that leaves the warehouse is fully accounted for, controlled, untampered during handling and in date.

A cumbersome, slow and outdated legacy system stood in the way of FareShare’s vision. Yet, due to the nature of handling surplus food items, no off-the-shelf solution would be able to meet its unique needs – you simply never know what you’re going to get.

FareShare set out to find a new system that was efficient, user friendly and one that could be integrated to complement its existing systems. One database to report on would mean the entire company could function as a collective, as opposed to separate databases for each regional centre that FareShare delivers to. As a result, the organisation reached out to Future Processing back in 2016 for its expertise in software development to build a bespoke solution from the ground up. Since then, a Service-On-Demand partnership with FareShare was formed and in November 2019, Future Processing was asked to further develop its software to deal with the ever increasing warehouse demand.

Time cutting and efficiency boosting

A dedicated team of eight Future Processing engineers worked closely with FareShare to deliver a unique solution for the sourcing and management of goods processed in and out of its warehouses. The newly created cloud-based application was designed specifically to save time and boost efficiency in its nationwide warehouses. The new software supports the management of FareShare’s national redistribution network, whilst maintaining control of food handling and traceability.

Great attention has also been paid to the speed of data entry. For example, extensive use of user interface (UI) features, such as autocomplete fields, help to decrease product input time on key processes by up to one third when compared to the old system. As the volume of goods coming in and out increases, the speed of data entry is an area which FareShare will continue to advance.

The solution also includes a complete analytics and reporting solution, that reveals key performance metrics and reports across multiple warehouses. Another benefit of the system is its scalability using Amazon Web Services – a cloud-based platform providing on-demand computing and storage.

A user-friendly and intuitive UI

A charity made up of thousands of volunteers and professional staff requires an application that is almost business-to-consumer led. Working closely with Future Processing, the new application is much more user-friendly, intuitive and quicker to use than the legacy application. As a result, staff training times have significantly reduced d – a crucial factor to the overall efficiency of the warehouses given that new workers and volunteers join the charity on a regular basis.  

FareShare’s collaboration with Future Processing has successfully aided its journey to distribute more of the UK’s available surplus food to people in need on a daily basis.

“One of the most valuable things about working with Future Processing is that we not only gained the cost benefits of working with a nearshore provider, we also saw the value of a well-established team. The team came in with known set technologies, expertise, understood how their processes worked, how their management worked and how to run an agile process. This allowed us to hit the ground running.

“After introducing the solution, we found we could get usable goods out very quickly and the quality has been of a high standard. The process and team has noticeably increased our efficiency to date, with technology that enables us to support more people across the nation. Recommending Future Processing would be an easy decision to make,” said Steve Baker, director at Quantiv Limited.