I am an applied economist whose primary research interests center on food systems, food choice, and food policy. With research experience in experimental methods and choice modeling, emerging markets, and evaluating regulatory landscapes, my long-term research portfolio will center on assessing the effect of food and beverage policies on consumer behavior, supply chain development and total welfare.

My dissertation is titled “Assessing regulatory, marketing, and policy issues across agri-beverage supply chains.” Over the past decade, U.S. agri-beverage supply chains have undergone a dramatic transformation. The emergence of thousands of craft breweries, for example, has revolutionized the U.S. beer industry. Their presence has garnished debate on supply chain regulatory reform and heightened conversations on creating more diverse, flexible, and resilient value chains post-COVID-19. This dissertation explores state-level regulatory patterns in the beer supply chain, constraints and marketing opportunities in value-added food systems, and the effectiveness of COVID-19 relief programs on craft beverage manufacturer performance.

The first essay, titled “Regulatory restrictions across the beer supply chain,” explores regulatory patterns by state using Mercatus Center RegData. Specifically, the study assesses the number of regulatory restrictions across the three-tier supply chain—brewery, wholesaler, and retailer—at the federal and state levels. The results suggest more than 125,000 regulatory restrictions constraining the average beer supply chain, with roughly 90% of the restrictions imposed at the federal level. However, at the state-level, there is substantial heterogeneity, where additional rules targeting the beer supply chain vary between 1,177 and 25,399 restrictions. These findings emphasize the need for businesses to develop a deep institutional understanding of the governing constraints of each state they are operating in. Discussion also surrounds how the patchwork approach to policy construction and the regional policy landscape can constrain business growth and entrepreneurial activities.

The second essay is titled “Hopping on the localness craze: Local value chain constraints and opportunities.” The study uses survey data from Michigan breweries to determine the leading indicators of local hop purchasing decisions. The U.S. is the global leader in hop production, and 96% of U.S. hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest. However, with the emergence of craft breweries, there is budding interest in developing local beer value chains. The study evaluates production and marketing challenges in local hop industries to identify the key factors constraining the expansion of these value chains. Results suggest that perceived input consistency and higher transaction costs are two critical limiting factors. However, as local markets overcome these challenges, there could be avenues for value-added marketing. In the survey, brewers are asked about different initiatives to incentivize them to purchase more locally-sourced hops. Developing a unique and improved cultivar selection, as well as farm brewery legislation, are the most favored initiatives. The essay offers discussion on these topics and opens avenue for future research.

The last essay, titled “The Paycheck Protection Program and small business performance: Evidence from craft breweries,” evaluates the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the craft beer market. The PPP provided $790 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to nearly 12 million small businesses. By merging PPP loan data from the Small Business Administration with a verified industry dataset of craft beer producers, the study examines the relationship between PPP funding and small business performance. Results suggest that firms that receive PPP funding are more likely to remain in operation and experience a smaller decline in annual production from 2019 to 2020. Further, using a quasi-experiment that exploits a natural break in the loan program, the study suggests a positive causal effect of the role of loan timing on short-run performance. The results provide evidence that the PPP alleviated losses induced by COVID-19, but questions remain about the program’s distribution and long-term impact. Food and beverage supply chain resiliency and sustainability now dominate policy conversations, and stakeholders are searching for ways to improve supply chain efficiency and flexibility.

Through these essays, this dissertation offers insights that are aimed to guide policymakers and industry stakeholders on future decision-making across agri-beverage supply chains.

My pipeline of research projects outside of my dissertation includes:

  • Assessing the impact of the transition to cage-free eggs on U.S. egg producers, retailers, and consumers (with Dr. Vincenzina Caputo, Dr. Jayson Lusk, and Dr. Glynn Tonsor)
  • Calculating the effect of PPP funding on employee retention using data from the Small Business Administration and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (with Dr. Trey Malone, Dr. Craig Carpenter, and Dr. Kristopher Deming)
  • Exploring halo effects in the U.S. alcohol market (with Dr. Vincenzina Caputo, Dr. Trey Malone, and Dr. Brenna Ellison
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