While interest in developing strategic alliances within the food system continues to increase, there remains considerable risk when firms adopt such a cooperative strategy. The risk is due in part to the lack of concrete guidelines that illustrate the steps or stages of alliance development and the important strategic and operational decisions required at each stage. The existence of such guidelines would facilitate alliance formation and enable managers and researchers to better understand alliance practice. This paper provides an alliance formation model that incorporates the process of alliance formation with the strategic and operational considerations required for long term success. The model can be used by managers and academicians to develop and understand alliances.