Recent challenges such like climate, demographic, political, economy and market changes are the foundation for
the establishment of the Regional Cooperative Westerkwartier (RCW) in the Northern Netherlands. This RCW is
managing a vast range of regional programs and projects developed by multi-stakeholder groups within the region.
These stakeholders are representatives of market, public administration, education, research and civil society. All
the activities of the cooperative focus on strengthening the regional economy. One of the major programs is the
development of a regional food chain (RFC) based on cooperation between small and medium sized enterprises and
corporate purchasers. The cooperative is identifying its role within this RFC to develop this chain in an effective way.
This article reflects the results of a literature study in the fields of green supply chain management and industrial
symbiosis to understand the most important factors of chain development and enterprise symbiosis. Based on these
results multiple in-depth interviews and a survey have been conducted. This results in a list of factors, ranked according
to their importance for small and medium-sized enterprises. In the role of a RFC-agent the cooperative should focus
on creating trust, achieving one overall goal and ensuring clear agreements within the RFC. Surprisingly, the factor
“achieving a fair distribution of costs and benefits” throughout the chain is not as important as was expected to be.
Based on these ranked factors the role of the RFC-agent has been clarified and an additional circular chain business
model can be developed.