As senior director of business strategy and sustainability for Walmart, Fred Bedore has become a focal point of the sustainability discussion. Bedore has been busy explaining his company’s approach to just about anyone who asks.
In a recent interview with Beyond the Bean, Bedore noted that Walmart and farmers have similar goals: provide safe, sustainable and affordable food for consumers.
Q. How are farmers involved in Walmart’s sustainability platform?
A. We’re making sure that we’re working to increase farmer education. Farmers become more efficient and more productive, and it increases their standard of living. As a result, they become better, more productive parts of our supply chain. That helps them with their long-term growth and helps make sure that we have a sustainable supply long term as well.
Q. Why the emphasis on sustainability at Walmart?
A. We’re not doing it to feel better about ourselves. Sustainability helps us operate for less. It’s a different business model, but farmers can take the same approach. Sustainable practices can actually be more efficient, and be less expensive. In both farming and retail, it’s all about maintaining and building public trust.
Q. Can you give an example of how improving sustainability can also improve profitability for your company?
A. Walmart had a goal to reduce packaging by 5 percent by 2013. We worked with one of our suppliers to remove wire ties and ended up reducing a billion feet of wire that would have gone to landfills each year because we didn’t have it in the packaging anymore. We also had happier customers because they weren’t frustrated by trying to pull all these wire ties of their products after a kid would unwrap a present, for example. It was better customer engagement, it was lower cost and it was better for sustainability.