ReFED–an effort of 40 businesses, non-profits, foundations, investors and policymakers committed to reducing food waste in the United States—has named Chris Cochran, Walmart’s senior manager of corporate sustainability, as its first executive director, effective in April.
Sarah Vared, who has served as ReFED’s Interim Director since its formation in early 2015, will continue to support ReFED strategically as needed in her role as a Principal at MissionPoint Partners. Vared is credited for positioning ReFED as the country’s leader in providing actionable solutions to reduce food waste. She was recently named as a member of the 2017 Waste360 40 Under 40 list.
“I’m thrilled to be joining ReFED at such a pivotal moment, both for the organization and for the broader movement to reduce food waste in the United States,” Cochran said in a statement. “ReFED’s first-of-its-kind Roadmap has revolutionized the way we look at one of our biggest opportunities to save money and resources, feed people and create jobs. Using economics and data analysis, the Roadmap has identified a set of practical and proven solutions that can cut food waste dramatically and immediately. Now, it’s our job to catalyze the action and investment needed to realize the Roadmap’s promise, working closely with businesses, investors, foundations, non-profits and government to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.”
Cochran brings credentials and experience across the food system to his leadership of ReFED. In his role at Walmart, Cochran developed a farm-to-consumer view of food waste while leading sustainability for Walmart’s global produce business. He also led cross-sector, multi-stakeholder alignment of company food positions on animal welfare and farm antibiotic use.
Most recently, Cochran led development of Walmart’s first end-to-end food waste model and the company’s initiative to reduce food waste in its supply chain. He also managed the company’s Direct Farm initiative, which formed long-term purchasing relationships with growers in Latin America, Asia and Africa, reducing post-harvest loss and creating stable incomes to small and medium farmers by ensuring reliable pathways to market.
Before joining Walmart, Cochran held positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York and CARE
International in Honduras, where he worked on CARE’s agricultural development project that benefited 750 smallholder farmer families. In addition, Cedro Capital – an organization Cochran founded –operates a cocoa farm in Honduras.
“The ReFED Steering Committee couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit Chris brings to ReFED,” said Jesse Fink, chair of the ReFED Steering Committee. “His strategy and policy experience, coupled with his firsthand knowledge of industry’s role in food waste reduction, is precisely what ReFED needs to take its work to the next level. We are excited for him to build upon ReFED’s progress, connecting stakeholders and reaching new ones to win the fight against food waste.”
“Our ambition when we developed the Roadmap was to create a surge in demand within the industry to take on proven waste-reducing solutions. Chris’ leadership will enable ReFED to continue tackling food waste from multiple points in the value chain and we hope his retail background will bring together even more actors from the business community who haven’t – or otherwise wouldn’t –collaborate on food system challenges,” Vared said in a statement.
Since launching the Roadmap in 2016, ReFED’s efforts have included a multi-stakeholder initiative to standardize date labels; collecting data and generating insights on the innovation taking place to reduce food waste, as well as to navigate the policy and financing landscape; and developing the tools and resources that businesses, nonprofits, government, and investors need to put solutions into action.