Sasin Insights: Agribusiness Management with Harry Jay Cavite
State-of-the-art tractors, drones, soil sensors detecting diseases in the field, robots enabling precision agriculture– these trends shape the agribusiness Internet of Things (IoT) technologies today.
Harry Jay Cavite, Ph.D., a lecturer in Marketing at Sasin School of Management, talked to Sasin Insights about the trends and challenges in agribusiness. His expertise is in agribusiness management, consumer behavior, farmers’ technology adoption, and community enterprise development.
Harry’s vision is to progress his agribusiness research and use the findings for effective policy and program implementation in Thailand. Harry worked on creating a holistic approach to community development using the lens of agribusiness management while he was working on his doctoral degree at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang. Engaging with the community enterprise in one of Thailand’s rural areas to improve its management operations, one of his tasks was to investigate consumers’ purchase intentions toward organic rice.
“We integrated the concept of product traceability and investigated its direct and moderating role on consumer’s purchase intention. The findings of our study have a lot of practical and theoretical implications for the community, enterprise, and policymakers to devise better marketing strategies for organic rice marketing in the field of agribusiness,” said Harry.
One of the biggest trends in agribusiness today is consumers wanting healthier and more sustainable food which leads to product innovation.
“First, consumers have become more knowledgeable and demand more product information from the food that they purchase. And second is that consumers preferences change rather quickly,” he said, “And that ties nicely to the next challenge, which is new product innovation, which is critical because we need to deliver.”
Although there is a demand for more sustainable food, Harry stated that farm production globally is based on high input resource-intensive farming systems with high costs to the environment and this needs to be changed.
“So, we need to put in place a transformative mindset or change how we produce or consume our food, putting forward sustainable production systems that offer healthier and nutritious foods to the consumers, while at the same time preserving the environment and protecting the farmers themselves,” said Harry.
Digital agriculture is also becoming a big part of agribusiness, but although Harry finds it transformative, he believes it is also disruptive as it affects farmers’ behaviors, suppliers, producers, food manufacturers, and market prices.
“So, the effect of digital agriculture is that it will change the production management towards anticipatory, highly optimized, and intelligent that is driven by data,” he said. This trend in agriculture also drives two important challenges globally. One is the challenge of agri-food companies that need to stay on top of legislation in the food industry, which is changing rapidly.
“The most obvious and biggest of all of these challenges is meeting the legislations in the food industry because regulations have become a primary driver for improved traceability in the value chain,” he said.
The second challenge, Harry pointed out, is the changes in consumer behavior, where consumers are dictating a lot of changes in the industry. Consumers are moving away from meat, eating less sugar and salt, and choosing sustainable and healthier food through organic products. This trend towards healthier consumption has led to a lot of competition in the agribusiness field.
“The market nowadays is very competitive, and that is because of technological advancements, which enable new companies to emerge out of nowhere. And think about the pandemic, of how agri-food companies open online sales channels so as not to lose the chance of meeting consumer’s needs, but most importantly, to build a much deeper and closer relationship with these consumers,” he said.
Currently, Harry’s main work is researching, but he has two courses in mind if he were to teach agriculture management: The first one is Challenges of Agribusiness Management.
“I have this vision of educating future business leaders about the challenges of agribusiness management. Unless we understand how this complex system operates, we won’t be able to give sound solutions for these problems since the agriculture sector nowadays is faced with a lot of challenges– climate change, population growth, and other challenges,” he said.
The second course Harry would like to teach is Consumer Behavior in a Digital Age.
“Consumer preferences change very quickly nowadays, especially with the advancement of new technologies. And for businesses to cope up and even influence with these changes, they need to leverage deep consumer insights,” he said.