We examine the interaction of marketing channel members and the influence of these interactions on incentives, coordination costs, and risk allocation strategies in a food marketing channel. For this purpose we specify a three-stage principal-agent marketing channel model involving producers, wholesalers, retailers and a futures market. We compare the situation with and without futures market. The empirical results regarding the Dutch ware potato marketing channel during 1971-2003 reveals that, possibly as a result of increases in incentives to producers and wholesalers, the coordination costs of the marketing channel decreased significantly, both with and without futures trade. The coordination costs of a marketing channel with a futures market are lower than without futures, demonstrating the price discovery role of the futures markets. The results also show that risk shifted from retailers to producers and wholesalers.