Purpose : Measure chain performance in the traditional food sector and identify the main relationship measures determining performance. Methodology: Survey with 271 chain members from 91 traditional food chains from 3 European countries in 6 traditional food product categories. First 12 types of performance imbalances are distinguished and subsequently, cluster analysis is carried out. Finally, the nature of imbalances is linked to the quality of chain relationships. Findings: Three clusters are demarcated. Cluster one represents chains being characterized by higher performance of both suppliers and focal companies as compared to customers, while cluster three represents chains with high customer and focal company performance as compared to suppliers. Cluster two includes chains hardly including chain imbalances. Several relationship measures such as trust, conflict and reputation demonstrate discriminative power between the clusters. Research limitations/implications: The research is limited to traditional food chains. Practical implications: Our findings allow the identification of chain imbalances and as a result, allow chain members and policy makers to make specific and tailor made efforts to enhance performance at specific location of the chains, depending on the type of imbalance occurring. Originality/value: The shift to analysis of individual chains, horizontal comparison of chains and identification of chain commonalities may contribute to develop a new management theory.