Thursday, December 10, 2015

Specialty Coffee Expansion in Traditional Retail: Lessons from Non-Traditional Retailers

Alison Rosenblum, Portland, OR, defended her thesis, “Specialty Coffee Expansion in Traditional Retail: Lessons from Non-Traditional Retailers” on June 29, 2015. Rosenblum is an August graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.
The coffee industry has evolved over the last century from traditional canned coffee products such as Folgers and Maxwell House to Starbucks to custom roasts. Traditional retailers sometimes have a hard time quickly adjusting their in-store promotions, placement and pricing to stay current with the new coffee trends.
“Because of their large role in the retail business, traditional retailers cannot be ignored by any player seeking to be successful. This implies that with each shift in the coffee industry, it is important for the participants to find ways of enabling the traditional retailer to make the necessary transformation – at least with their products – so that they can secure their market share and continuing success,” Rosenblum said.
She researched the methods non-traditional retailers such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target have used to be successful in the changing coffee environment.  From the case studies she developed, there are a number of strategies that may be beneficial to traditional retailers: offering a broad assortment of products at different price points; create a store-within-a-store for coffee similar to a specialty section for wines and cheeses; and hosting events featuring coffees at the stores.
Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rosenblum’s thesis advisor, said, “This codifies the strategies that firms such as Peat’s Coffee have been pursuing. We can now assess their strategies with tools such as those espoused in Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim by creating new market spaces ripe for growth.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Income and Bean Consumption Patterns in Zambia

Winnie Pele, Lusaka, Zambia, defended her thesis, “Income and Bean Consumption Patterns in Zambia” on May 12, 2015. She is an Agriculture Client Solution Consultant for Barclays Bank Zambia. Pele is a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.
In its commitment to reduce poverty and increase nutrition, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has been exploring policies that would improve consumption of nutritious food products, such as beans and other legumes and pulses. Beans offer a variety of potential benefits to diets and incomes of smallholder producers. It has a high protein content of about 40% in addition to being a profitable cash crop.
“The purpose of this thesis was to identify the effect of income on expenditure share allocations among different food groups. The study was particularly interested in how changes in incomes affect the share of bean expenditures,” Pele said. “It is important to recognize that because beans are perceived as a poor man’s meat, its consumption may not be very attractive to those whose incomes are increasing. I expected that as incomes increase, people will reduce the share of their income devoted to bean consumption as they increase their consumption of animal products.”
Her research shows that Zambians allocate about 40% of their food expenditure to cereals compared to 5% to pulses and only 3.5% to beans. A higher proportion of their food expenditure is allocated to fruits and vegetables than to beans and/or pulses, providing further confirmation that legumes are low on the food hierarchy in Zambia.
The results suggest that if the long-term objective is to reap the nutritional benefits of beans, there may be value in focusing on two principal policy variables: education and income enhancement. Investing in increasing education, especially for females who make family meal decisions, is found to increase bean consumption. Using outreach and other initiatives to enhance consumer awareness about the nutritional value of beans could contribute to improving its share of food expenditure.    
Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Pele’s thesis advisor, said, “Winnie’s thesis fills a gap in our knowledge about the position of beans in the food hierarchy effect of income on bean consumption in Zambia. It shows that for beans to overcome this traditional location on the food hierarchy, a lot more has to be done through outreach and public education to change the image of beans as ‘a poor man’s meat.’”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at

Life as a turkey farmer, banker and world traveler

An Alumni Spotlight on MAB Class of 2009 Grad Clair Doan

A lifelong resident of Norwich, Ontario, Clair Doan grew up on a dairy and cash crop farm. Agriculture has been a mainstay in his life.

He graduated from the University of Guelph in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and completed the K-State Master of Agribusiness program in 2009. He and wife, Kathryn, purchased their first farm in 2006, and then established a turkey production unit in 2009.

“An appealing aspect of turkey farming is the planned aspect of production, we place and brood birds four times per year, which tend to be the busiest weeks of growing the birds. They are very sensitive to their environment so we must ensure they get a good start. These placement dates are scheduled months in advance, and I set my work schedule around these dates,” Doan said.

One major challenge Doan and other poultry farmers faced this past year was the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 outbreak in North America. Turkey flocks were primarily affected by H5N2 strain of the virus. By July 2016, more than 48 million birds had been affected in the U.S. (USDA 2015).

“Our farm was very fortunate to have not been affected by avian influenza. Three farms in our county of Oxford were infected with the disease.

However, we remained outside the quarantine zone. We increased biosecurity on our farm and minimized any additional traffic on farm.  All feed and supply trucks on the farm were subject to additional biosecurity including being cleaned, having tires disinfected, and ensuring they travelled through safe zones,” Doan said. “These outbreaks devastated farms and have created the new reality of ensuring our farm will always have a heightened sense of biosecurity.”

In addition to the farm, he also maintains a full-time job as the Associate Vice President Agriculture, Ontario for the National Bank of Canada. Doan manages the Ag Banking team in Ontario with teams located in London, Kitchener, Barrie and Casselman, and he assists in market development, supports strategy development and execution in agriculture markets.

Managing responsibilities at National Bank and his family farm requires a lot planning and a little help from his family.

“Farming and banking both have their own demands. Through planning and working as a team with Kathryn, we have enjoyed growing our own business, yet sustaining rewarding careers. Kathryn and I value raising our three daughters Carmyn, Sophia and Charlotte, surrounded by agriculture—they keep me grounded no matter how busy things get,” he said. “Needless to say, a lot of farming is done in evenings and weekends.”

“We are fortunate to live near my family, and I rely on my brothers to monitor the birds if we are away, as well as work as custom operators for our corn, soybeans and wheat fields. Our farm is a family business, and we appreciate that our children will be raised on a farm working along with us, which we value as learning about life’s lessons,” Doan said.

Strategic planning is an important theme in Doan’s career and was a major factor in his Master of Agribusiness thesis. When he began his MAB thesis project, his goal was to have a research project that was meaningful, credible and he wanted the research to make a difference in his life and that of his clients at National Bank. Doan became fascinated with gaining a better understanding of business planning and how his clients at the bank created, then executed plans. This idea was the topic of his thesis, Strategic Planning as a Differentiating Factor in Performance.

“I had clients that seemed to do limited business planning and those that paid for high priced plans, but they didn’t have any accountability to these plans, both seemed troubling to me. By formulating a question that suggested business planning could both be formal and informal, I surveyed my client base through a questionnaire to investigate the types of business planning on their farm,” he said. “I then took the survey results and compared it to their financial results and drew conclusions. My take away was that businesses do plan, both in terms of written and updated business plans. However, for the vast majority of farmers, their planning is much less formal, but the outcomes are similar.”

Completing the MAB program gave Doan a sense of personal accomplishment and he recommends all professionals create a professional development plan to learn new skills.

“Through hard work, I was fortunate to take on a leadership role at National Bank. No doubt my MAB played a role in that promotion. I have a huge sense of personal accomplishment about completing my MAB. Nobody can take this away from me no matter where I go in the future,” he said. “Times change and evolve, but I have an expectation that all members on my team have a professional development plan. It doesn’t always need to be a formal master’s degree such as the MAB program, but people need to continually build and improve skills to meet our changing work and economic conditions.”

His passion for agriculture and drive to continue learning recently earned him a new opportunity.

“As my career continues to progress at National Bank, I was spending less time focused on agriculture issues and more time invested in people, process, and product management; thus I had a desire to refocus energy on agriculture issues, so I applied for a Nuffield Farm Scholars program,” Doan said.

The international Nuffield organization provides scholarships to agricultural leaders to expand their knowledge, network with individuals around the world, and to promote the advancement and leadership in agriculture. In recognition of his love of agriculture, Doan was rewarded with a Nuffield Canada scholarship.

“I have been awarded one of three 2016 Nuffield Canada Scholars, part of Nuffield International’s global program that has participating countries in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Netherlands, and France.  In total, approximately 75 scholars participate in the program,” Doan said. “My Nuffield project will focus on how Canada’s supply managed sectors, particularly poultry farmers, can manage during times of uncertainty with increased political and global market pressures.”

As part of the program, he will travel to Ireland in February 2016 to meet with other scholars from around the world for one week of tours, workshops, speakers and networking. He will also travel for an additional 10+ weeks to other countries to continue studying. Doan seeks to gain a thorough understanding of production and marketing models abroad. His focus is to ensure the industry remains relevant and competitive while seeking market opportunities.

The Nuffield Scholarship is another step in the continuing journey in his life as a turkey farmer, banker and world traveler.

“A big part of the Nuffield Scholarship is taking the experience and knowledge that I learn and sharing with those that have invested with me, as well as work colleagues, clients, and farmers committed to Canadian agriculture,” he said.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Framework to Develop an E-Commerce Strategy Selling Products Online for Agriculture Manufacturers

Brett Goodman, Collierville, Tenn., defended his thesis, “A Framework to Develop an E-Commerce Strategy Selling Products Online for Agriculture Manufacturers” on May 14, 2015. Goodman is an August graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.
Online shopping has made purchasing more convenient for buyers around the world. E-commerce sales at the retail level have increased due to technology advancements that have improved access to the Internet, but opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce have not been fully explored  in the agricultural industry. The potential for agricultural input manufacturers to develop an online B2B model may provide a new source of revenue by reaching an underserved market. 
Goodman conducted research for a client to determine the feasibility of increasing one point of market share in corn seed through an online and phone-based sales model.  
“Three factors that have impacted previous agricultural companies conducting online business are industry structure, product complexity and the high-touch nature of transactions in agriculture,” Goodman said. “Before entering into e-commerce, agricultural input companies need to identify the market segment, identify key issues, specify ways to improve efficiencies in the supply chain management and outline resources needed.”
The steps used to evaluate feasibility were to identify the target market and market opportunities and, then, address those opportunities and challenges a company could face developing such a business.
Dr. Arlo Biere, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Goodman’s thesis advisor, said, “Using survey data on customer traits and attitudes, Mr. Goodman skillfully designed a new marketing channel that could meet the need of both buyers and sellers.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

K-State Master of Agribusiness offers tour of Brazilian farms and agribusinesses

Kansas State University’s Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program is offering travel to Brazil to learn about the food and agriculture industry in that country. The trip is scheduled for June 11 – 20, 2016 and will include stops at an ethanol plant, crop and cattle farms, sugar cane and coffee farms, as well as professional visits to agricultural and food-related industries. Guided sightseeing tours will be arranged along with free time to explore, and two days at the beautiful Iguazu waterfalls.
Agriculture is a principal driver of the Brazilian economy. While sugar cane has been a primary focus, Brazil has become one of the world's largest exporter of coffee, soybeans, beef, sugar cane, ethanol and frozen chickens.
Allen Featherstone, Head  of the Agricultural Economics Department and Director of the Master of Agribusiness program, thinks people will enjoy getting a different perspective on agriculture.
“While Brazil is a direct competitor for U.S. agriculture, their perspective on many issues is very different than the U.S. perspective,” Featherstone said. “Understanding management challenges in a region that deals with turbulent macroeconomic conditions, no formal government support, and few formal insurance markets will provide a keen insight into one of the biggest challengers to the U.S. agricultural system. Understanding the effects of the Brazilian Real devaluation will also be educational.”
Previous international trips hosted by the Master of Agribusiness program have been to South America, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and Europe. Travelers get a mix of cultural sightseeing and international agriculture, while building relationships with members of the group.
“The MAB trip to Southeast Asia was a great experience. We really enjoyed learning about the culture, history and agriculture in the region. The business and industry tours really added to the experience. It was fascinating to learn how the different country's government structure has influenced business and agriculture. It added a glimpse of the culture we might not have otherwise taken in if we traveled on our own,” Master of Agribusiness Alumna Leslie Svacina said.
K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries. The program has three start dates and campus session locations for the convenience of working professionals.

More information about the trip can be found at or by contacting Mary Bowen at 785-532-4435,  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Myers to present Animal Health Industry Insights Brownbag at K-State Olathe

Kansas State University’s Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program is hosting an Animal Health Industry Insights brownbag on Wednesday, October 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the K-State Olathe Campus. Dr Lee M. Myers, Federal Liaison for the National Veterinary Stockpile (NVS), USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services (VS) will be the speaker.
She will provide an overview of the National Veterinary Stockpile program, and highlight the logistical response to the 2015 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak.
“Dr. Myers was invited to speak because of the interested in the NVS at our last Industry Insights event in August. We understand that the Stockpile and the response to the avian influenza outbreak are important topics many of our students and industry partners are interested in understanding. The MAB program is pleased to be able to facilitate the discussion,” said Deborah Kohl, MAB Program Coordinator.
Dr. Myers is the first State Federal Liaison after serving as the Georgia State Veterinarian for thirteen years. Her primary responsibility with the NVS is to collaborate with Federal, State, Tribe, and Territory officials on emergency preparedness and response. Myers leads the NVS training and exercise team, and assists stakeholders in developing plans, and conducting training and exercises to receive, stage, store and distribute NVS countermeasures in their respective jurisdictions. She also serves as the primary point of contact for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of the Strategic National Stockpile. Dr. Myers initiated the Veterinary Services training and exercise strategy and plan, now in its second year of implementation.
Attendees may participate live or by online webcast. “We are looking forward to opening this Industry Insights event at K-State Olathe to virtual participation. The format should allow industry partners to access valuable information and time with an expert in the field without a need to leave their office,” Kohl said.

To participate in the brownbag lunch or webinar, register and pay the $15 registration fee at Deadline to register is Friday, October 16. More information about the seminar can be found at  or by contacting Mary Bowen at 785-532-4435,  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Risky Business: Managing Agribusiness Risk Professional Development Seminar

In this risky agribusiness environment,  do you know the right play to call? Join us for Risky Business: Managing Risk to learn better offense and defense for your company.

September 17-19, 2015 * Kansas Department of Agriculture
1320 Research Park Drive, Manhattan, KS 66502
This event is open to MAB students, alumni and members of the agribusiness industry. Register online at

Thursday, September 17
1:00 p.m. Welcome & Opening Session: Managing Risk In international Business - Larry Gilmore,VSP Global and Essien Ita, Wellpoint Energy

2:30 p.m. Managing Financial Risk - Renee Laird, Tallgrass International Ltd.
3:45 p.m. Managing Risk with Land Usage - Nelson Villoria, Kansas State University
6:00 p.m. Dinner with the Peterson Farm Brothers, KSU Alumni Center

Friday, September 18
9:00 a.m. Managing the Risk of Climate Change - Tony Nugteren, Cargill

10:15 a.m. Putting Big Data to Work in Agribusiness - Terry Griffin, Kansas State University
11:00 a.m. Intelligence Practices for Knowing and Managing Risk - Danny Pickens, Global Threat Intelligence Center, Optiv

11:30 a.m. Managing Data Risk - Ken Harmon, Koch Industries
12:30 p.m. Networking Lunch & Closing Comments
1:30 p.m. Depart for Optional Tours: Kansas Wheat Innovation Center and Feed Technology Innovation Center

Saturday, September 19
11:00 a.m. K-State AgEcon and MAB Tailgate, Cat Town, Bill Snyder Family Stadium

Early-Bird Fee Registration fee $200 by September 4* includes meals, conference materials and the MAB/AgEcon Tailgate on Saturday, Sept. 19th

One day rate = $125
*after September 4 registration will be $225 per person.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Milk Quality Analysis in Southwestern Uganda

Hamid Rutaro, Menomonie, WI, defended his thesis, “Milk Quality Analysis in Southwestern Uganda,” on April 9th. He is a Regional Sales Manager for AgSource Cooperative Services a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International (CRI).  Rutaro is a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

The dairy industry in Uganda plays a prominent role in the livelihoods of approximately 1.7 million farming families.  It contributes about 9% of total agriculture GDP and plays an important role as a source of food, income and employment.  The industry also has a positive outlook due to the increasing demand as incomes rise in Uganda and the East African region.

“Despite all of these positives for the dairy industry in Uganda, smallholder dairy farmers in Uganda are faced with some major challenges including livestock diseases, seasonal fluctuation in the quality and quantity of feed and water, low genetic potential for milk production, inadequate milk collection and marketing infrastructure, limited knowledge and skills, and milk quality issues,” Rutaro said. “When the milk quality is perceived as low, it is hard to compete with imported ‘high-quality’ milk and producers are less likely to invest in technology to enhance their quality."

For his Master of Agribusiness thesis, Rutaro visited dairies and milk collection centers in Southwestern Uganda to assess milk quality by testing the somatic cell count (SCC). He also interviewed dairy farmers in the region to understand their perception of milk quality.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rutaro’s thesis advisor, said, “This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge about milk quality in Uganda and provides a path to enhancing it. Improving producer knowledge about their SCC is a very important step forward, and Hamid started us on the path."

Testing at the milk collection centers showed 93% of the milk had an average SSC of 276,000 cells/ml. For comparison, the European standard for milk is less than 400,000 cells/ml.

“The study revealed that milk quality in Uganda is better than the perception. This is important because such information was not previously available. The lower SCC may mean better returns to dairy farmers and will encourage them to continue improving,” Rutaro said.

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness ( is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food, animal health and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries. 
The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at

Monday, March 16, 2015

Advancing your career in animal health information webinar

Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness (MAB) and Biomedical Sciences (Veterinary) Master of Science programs are presenting a free webinar for professionals in the animal health and companion animal industries. The webinar, “Advancing Your Career in Animal Health,” will be offered two times on Thursday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
“Following a successful face-to-face seminar, we were encouraged by animal health professionals in the Kansas City area to offer the session to a wider audience,” Deborah Kohl, Master of Agribusiness program coordinator, said. “The webinar format should make it easier for people to attend virtually, regardless of their physical proximity to Olathe, much like our academic programs.”
Webinar participants will learn what employers have identified as the knowledge needed to gain new career opportunities in Animal Health. You will be able to schedule a consultation with animal health faculty to discuss career options while analyzing the latest research and interviews with industry leaders.
“If you are considering a career change into the animal health or companion animal industries or are looking for information on how to advance your current career in the industry, this webinar will provide valuable information,” Paige Adams, Biomedical Science (Veterinary) program faculty advisor, said.
To participate, register online at:
For more information about the seminar contact Deborah Kohl at 785-532-4495 or
Kansas State University Olathe is more than just a campus — it’s a stakeholder in the community. Professionals in the Kansas City metro area come here to collaborate with industry, advance in their careers and become a solid asset in their organization. K-State Olathe works with area K-12 schools as well as local industry to ensure tomorrow's leaders have the necessary skills for success. We're here for Greater Kansas City because of Greater Kansas City, and we're proud to serve.
K-State’s Master of Agribusiness ( is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food, animal health and agriculture industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.

Biomedical Sciences (Veterinary) program ( prepares early career students for jobs related to animal health and helps current professionals working in the animal health industry expand their knowledge and skills. Emphasis areas include infectious diseases, epidemiology, physiology, immunology, public health, pharmacology, toxicology, regulatory affairs, biotechnology and professional development. Students can design an advanced degree that best fits their interests and professional goals.