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Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

The food, beverage and agribusiness (FBA) sector is one of growing importance to national and international communities. It encompasses a wide range of activities that contribute to the world supply of food and natural fibres, ranging from research and development to marketing strategies and retail sales. In order to succeed, this dynamic business must respond to technological advances, major changes in trade and policy, and a consumer-driven marketplace. Businesses operating in the FBA sector face complex legal issues that require innovative, practical and effective solutions from legal advisers who understand the industry.
Blakes has one of the most active FBA teams in the country and represents a wide variety of the players in the sector. We are internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading law firms for FBA merger and acquisition deals and regularly act for both domestic and international investors in the sector, including private equity and venture capital firms, pension funds and major strategics.  In addition to M&A, lawyers in our FBA group advise on a wide range of legal matters affecting the sector, including corporate/commercial, technology, intellectual property, banking, labour and employment, pension and employee benefits, class action defence, consumer product safety, administrative and regulatory processes, and real estate. Our Financial Services lawyers also assist our lender clients who are active in this industry.

Well-known consumer brands in the FBA industry regularly retain Blakes to assist with regulatory compliance matters, advertising and marketing of food and beverage products, including structuring promotions, offers and campaigns, as well as the negotiation of advertising agreements and managing supply chains. We frequently assist with product claim substantiation and advise on labelling issues; product recalls; the acquisition, licensing, transfer and litigation of patent, trademark, copyright and industrial design rights; and regulatory classification issues (food versus natural health product versus drug).
Representing clients in a wide variety of civil, administrative and quasi-criminal proceedings, our litigators and regulatory lawyers regularly resolve disputes between companies and regulatory officials involving interpreting legislation as well as administrative and policy matters. We have resolved numerous agency disputes and complaints with Advertising Standards Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada; merger reviews before the Competition Bureau and abuse of dominance cases; and international trade rights and disputes, including subsidies, tariffs, food and health regulations impacting market access, and import controls.
Blakes Environmental lawyers often advise on matters such as spills, wastewater, noise and odour emissions, as well as offer regulatory guidance on fertilizer, nutrient management, toxic substances and pesticide issues.
Clients appreciate our cross-disciplinary approach that allows us to represent them efficiently and cost-effectively in business dealings, regulatory challenges and in litigation.

Recent Experience


  • The Hutton Family on its acquisition of the assets of Fairview Cellars Winery.

  • Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc. on its US$70 million Series C equity funding.

  • McCain Foods Ltd. on the acquisition of predictive crop intelligence technologies from Resson Inc., a transformative analytics technology firm enhancing farming efficiency.

  • Mama Earth Organics Inc., a subscription service for organic produce and grocery delivery, on the sale of all of its issued and outstanding shares to Fresh City Farms, Inc., an urban farm and organic online retailer

  • Nestlé S.A., as its Canadian counsel, on the US$4.3-billion sale of Nestlé Waters North America Inc. to One Rock Capital Partners, LLC and Metropoulos & Co.
  • McCain Foods Limited on its investment round in Simulate Labs and related commercial matters, its investment in TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture and its wholly owned subsidiary GoodLeaf Farms, and its acquisition of a minority stake in FiddleHead Technology Inc.

  • Nutrien Ltd. on its acquisition of 100 per cent of the equity of the Tec Agro Group, a leading agricultural retailer and owner of one of the largest branded soybean seeds businesses in Brazil; its acquisition of Agrichem do Brasil S.A., a Brazilian speciality fertilizer business; and its acquisition of Macrofertil Australia Pty Ltd., an Australian-based fertilizer-trading, storage and distribution business.

  • Investissement Québec on its C$150-million investment in Olymel L.P., a company specializing in the production, slaughtering, processing and distribution of pork and poultry meat.

  • Sodiaal International SA (as Canadian competition counsel) on the acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in Yoplait SAS and 50 per cent stake in Yoplait Marques SNC and Liberté Marques Sàrl from General Mills, Inc.

  • Ceres Global Ag Corp. on all corporate and commercial arrangements to support and advance the construction of a C$350-million integrated canola processing facility in Northgate, Saskatchewan.

  • Maple Leaf Foods on its acquisition of VIAU Foods, a Canadian market leader in premium Italian cooked, dry-cured and charcuterie meats, and its acquisitions of Field Roast and LightLife Foods, leading manufacturers of plant-based protein foods.

  • Wheatsheaf Group Limited, the food and agriculture investment arm of the U.K.-based Grosvenor Estate, on its acquisition of all of the shares of Ostara Nutrient Recovery Solutions Inc. pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia).

  • Ceres Global Ag Corp., as part of a group of borrowers, on its C$150-million revolving facility and swing line loan and its C$70-million series of other loans.

  • Labomar S.p.A. on its acquisition of Importfab Inc. and its subsequent initial public offering.

  • Agrium Inc. on its merger-of-equals transaction with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., creating Nutrien Ltd.

  • Canada Bread Company, Limited on its acquisition of Saputo Bakery Inc., Stonemill Bakery, Sobeys Bakery, Italian Home Bakery, GD Bakery Group, Olafson's Bakery Group and Parisco Limited.

  • Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. on its acquisition of Atoka Cranberries Inc. from The Bieler Group.

  • Labatt Brewing Company on its acquisition of Mill Street Brewery and Mikes Hard Lemonade.

  • Numerous private equity clients on their acquisitions and divestitures in the FBA space.

  • Numerous owner/operators on successful exit transactions in the FBA space.

Regulatory and General Advice

  • Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. in connection with ongoing legal advice relating to food regulatory matters and marketing and advertising matters.

  • Organic Ocean Seafood Inc., a leading supplier of organic seafood, on all corporate, financing, labour and employment and regulatory matters.

  • Syngenta Crop Protection on a variety of regulatory and litigation matters, including in relation to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and new product innovation.

  • Holstein Association of Canada on the preparation and enforcement of various rules, regulations and bylaws governing breeders and persons involved with agricultural show competitions.

  • A major multinational non-alcoholic beverage company on its labelling and regulatory issues rolling out new innovative products (including pre-clearance of all labels and advertising).

  • Plaisirs Gastronomiques Inc. as external general counsel regarding a range of corporate and litigation matters.

  • A major multinational infant-formula manufacturer on regulatory, advertising and claims issues.


Awards & Recognition

Members of the Food, Beverage & Agribusiness group are consistently recognized as leaders in their fields by the following publications: 

  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business

  • Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business

  • The Legal 500 Canada

  • IFLR1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial and Corporate Law Firms

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory

  • Lexpert® Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Corporate Lawyers In Canada

  • The Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada

  • Best Lawyers in Canada

  • Who’s Who Legal: Canada

  • Who’s Who Legal

  • Legal Media Group's Guide to the World's Leading Women in Business Law

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys