Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
M.I.A., Columbia University
Diplôme, Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Université de Nice
B.A., Claremont Men's College

Professor, MSU Distinguished Faculty, and AAEA Fellow

Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Michigan State University

Rm 211D, Justin S Morrill Hall of Agriculture
East Lansing, MI 48824-1039


Biographical Statement

Career and Education Path. Tom Reardon is tenured Full Professor at MSU. Tom joined MSU in 1992. He was a Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) from 1986-1991 in Washington DC. He was a Rockefeller Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow attached to IFPRI, based in Burkina Faso in West Africa from 1984 to 1986. He received his Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley, and Masters from Columbia University and the University of Nice, France. Tom’s career has been unique in combining 19 years of work in residence in developing countries (of his 35 years working on Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and associated fund raising, project coordination, and fieldwork for projects totaling 35 million dollars, with a complementary and integrated path of prolific and highly cited publication.

Interests. Tom’s research focuses on international agrifood economic development; he has a quadrangle of inter-linked interests: (1) modern food industry transformation, in particular the “supermarket revolution” as well as the rise of modern wholesale/logistics and large processing firms; (2)  “Quiet Revolution in food value chains” featuring the rapid development of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the midstream (distribution and processing) and upstream (agricultural services); (3) urbanization and consumer diet change, including since the late 1980s the rise of imported rice in West Africa, and the recent diet diversification in Asia and Africa into processed foods and non-staples; (4) rural nonfarm employment and “sustainable intensification” (a term Tom coined in 1995) of farms. He has studied the rural nonfarm and sustainable intensification theme and the urbanization and diet change theme since 1986 in Africa and Latin America. Tom has studied the transformation of the food industry overall and in the value chains of rice, horticulture, dairy, and fish in Asia and Latin America since 1999; he and collaborators are developing research on these topics in Africa recently and going forward.  

Current Activities. Tom supports and supervises graduate students, and teaches two courses each Fall semester, a graduate course, AFRE 841, “Analysis of Food System Organization and Performance”   and an upper-level undergraduate course ABM/FIM 427, “Global Agri-food  Industries and Markets.” Tom is also working with the “Food Security Policy Innovation Lab” USAID-funded program in the department, in the new Senegal project of that program (2015-2018) and the Food System Transformation sub-program of that program, with surveys and data analysis in both on value chain transformation in Senegal, Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Ethiopia.

Recognition. In 2014, based on lifetime-career achievement, Tom was named Fellow of the AAEA (the highest honor of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association; about 250 have been selected out of 30,000 members since 1957). He was also the first agricultural economist selected as a prestigious China 1000 Talents Program Scholar (with association with Renmin University of China 2012-2014), and a MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 2009. Tom is distinguished in lists of economists globally (listed in “Who’s Who in Economics,” listed by REPEC in the top 2.5% of economists of 44,000 registered globally, and listed  among the top few among agricultural economists globally by August 2015 in Google Scholar with 19,200 citations and in ISI Web of Science with 3450 citations. Tom’s 2003 article on the supermarket revolution in developing countries is the #1 most cited article in AJAE since 1980. His 2009 article on food system modernization’s effects on farmers ranked #2 in citations in World Development since 2009. Tom was the first agricultural economist with a personal invitation (in 2009) to the World Economic Forum in Davos; he featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2005. His 2012 Book “The Quiet Revolution in Asian food staple value chains” has been downloaded 25,000 times (from IFPRI and Asian Development Bank websites) 2012-2014. Tom was also named a 2015/16 Non-Resident Fellow of Chicago Council on Global Affairs.