Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

Professor, MSU Distinguished Faculty

Area of Expertise:

Agrifood markets, value chains, international development, and agribusiness/food industry

Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, Research, Capacity and Influence

Mentor and Professor


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

CV: File Download

Publications on Google Scholar

Tom Reardon is a Professor in the Tenure System. He holds masters degrees from the Université de Nice and from Columbia University. He got his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984. From 1984-1986 he was Rockefeller Post-Doctoral Fellow with IFPRI posted to Burkina Faso with the University of Ouagadougou and ICRISAT. Tom was Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC 1986-1991. He joined MSU in 1992.

Tom’s research focus is on the links between international development and agribusiness/food industry. He researches the transformation of agrifood value chains including the supermarket revolution and  the Quiet Revolution in SMEs in the Hidden Middle including processing firms, wholesale and logistics. Tom studies the effects of these changes on farmer incomes, technology, and rural employment, and business implementation of innovations via design of supply chains. He has researched value chains in Africa, Asia, and Latin America covering horticulture, fish, dairy, poultry, and grains. He has studied rural nonfarm employment and youth employment and their links to food systems and agricultural technology adoption. Tom’s recent and ongoing research is on value chains, markets, and linkages with farmers in poultry, fish, horticulture, and grain sectors, outsourced farm services, and food consumption and nutrition in Africa (Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania), Asia, (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, and Indonesia), and Latin America (Colombia).

Tom has a global reputation for his frontier work on the “supermarket revolution”, on the transformation of developing region food value chains, and on rural nonfarm employment. He was elected in 2014 Fellow of the AAEA, was the first agricultural economist personal invitee to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2009, and was featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2005. His more than 200 publications have been cited in Google Scholar 34,025 times (with an H index of 84 and i10-index of 258) by August 28, 2020, placing him globally ranked number 3 in agricultural economics, 1 in food value chains, and 1 in Food Policy. He is ranked in the top 2% among 59,500 economists globally followed by REPEC, and in the top 10 globally among agricultural economists in the ISI Web of Science.

Tom has published many articles on structural transformation of agricultural and food markets and global value chains in economics journals (e.g., AJAE, EDCC, Annual Review of Resource Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, Food Policy, and others) and leading general journals (e.g., Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science/PNAS, World Development, Obesity Reviews, and JDS). His 2003 AJAE article on supermarkets in developing countries was awarded Honorable Mention for Enduring Quality by AAEA in 2019, and is one of the top five cited AJAE articles since 1980.

Tom has spent 21 years with “feet on the ground” in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since taking his Ph.D. 34 years ago at Berkeley. With colleagues Tom has raised more than $30 million in extramural research grants from foundations and government agencies focused on fieldwork in those regions. He has supervised or been on the committees of more than 100 graduate students, many of whom are professors and research economists worldwide.

Tom taught the capstone international agricultural development course in AFRE for 20 years, and now teaches a graduate course, AFRE 841, in Analysis of Food System Organization, and an upper level undergraduate course, ABM/FIM 427, in International Agrifood Markets and Industries. Both are taught in the Fall semester. Tom is also active in advising doctoral and masters students.