Rural development strategies recognise that in the contemporary competitive and globalised context of food trade, specific character products can contribute to the differentiation of agro-food products and to an increasing proportion of added value captured by the primary producers. Theory suggests that specific character products contribute to the appearance of the so-called alternative food networks (AFNs) and short food supply chains (SFSCs). Yet, evidence to support the contribution of these products to rural development is thin and fragmented. Moreover, the concurrence of specific character products with AFNs and SFSCs is over simplistic. This paper deals with specific character cheese products in the North Aegean Region, Greece and particularly with their supply chains, their distribution networks and added value. To portray these in detail we use primary and secondary data. Personal interviews with key informers were conducted while analytical data were selected for most cheese-making units in the region with the use of structured questionnaires. Results demonstrate that the existent conceptualisation of SFSCs is inadequate to describe the empirical realities in Greece.
Keywords: short food supply chains, SFSCs, specific character products, rural development, North Aegean Region, Greece, cheese supply chains, supply chain management, SCM, alternative food networks, distribution networks, added value