(Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company), one of the world’s major players in the international food market of the 17th and 18th centuries. Can the experiences of the VOC teach lessons that today’s food production networks may take to heart? There are three domains in which changes might have occurred since the times of the VOC that could be relevant to this question. These are the people themselves, the rules of the game that can be captured by the term governance, and context factors. The article will investigate all three. As far as the people are concerned it will look at factors such as worker conditions, attitudes, and culture in general. In the area of governance the paper will consider contract enforcement and coercion constraining. Context factors to consider are costs of transport and availability of capital. The method used in this article is desk research using a number of historical sources. The theories used are from NIE (New Institutional Economics) and from cultural psychology.