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Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
Expertise / Sectors / Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
[S]trong industry-specific knowledge and experience.”

"I am impressed with everyone we’ve worked with at Blakes. They provide smart, high-achieving counsel, but are able to be practical and not over-lawyer. I’ve been very happy with the service.
Client comments, Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2020

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. We are internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading law firms for global FBA mergers and acquisitions deals. In addition to M&A, lawyers in our FBA group advises 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. 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.

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Recent Experience


  • Nutrien Ltd. on its proposed A$470-million acquisition of Ruralco Holdings Limited
  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc. on its C$215-million purchase of Viau Foods

  • Tilray, Inc. on its C$419-million acquisition of FHF Holdings Inc. (d.b.a. Manitoba Harvest) from Compass Group Diversified Holdings, LLC and other shareholders of Manitoba Harvest

  • The Jim Pattison Group on its acquisition of Nature’s Fare Markets and shares in the capital of Nature’s Fare Natural Foods (Kamloops) Ltd.’s

  • Agrium Inc. on its US$36-billion merger with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan.

  • Emmi International AG in relation to its acquisition of the cheese and dairy-related business of J.L. Freeman Limited Partnership.

  • Safeway on its C$5.8-billion sale of Canada Safeway to Sobeys.

  • Agrium Inc. on its C$1.8-billion acquisition of Viterra’s wholesale and retail agri-products division.

  • Maple Leaf Foods on its acquisition of LightLife Foods and the sale of its rendering and animal nutrition business.

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

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev on its acquisition of SABMiller.

  • Syngenta International AG on its US$43-billion sale to ChemChina.

  • Canada Bread on its acquisition of Italian Home Bakery and Stonemill Bakery.

  • A publicly-traded specialty grain company with its acquisition of grain elevators and processing facilities in Canada and the U.S. Midwest.

Regulatory and General Advice

  • Syngenta Crop Protection with a wide 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 of and enforcement of various rules, regulations and bylaws governing breeders and persons involved with agricultural show competitions.

  • A major multinational food company on the reformulation of many of its food products to include healthier ingredients and associated regulatory, claims and branding issues.

  • 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.

  • A major multinational food company in successfully resolving labelling issues with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

  • A North American agriculture association on the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules applicable to regulatory barriers in the EU, Japan, South Korea and Brazil to imports of various agricultural products.

  • A North American supplier of specialty fertilizers regarding the application of the Canada-Egypt Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

  • A North American government department on the consistency of supply management programs regulating various agriculture and agri-food commodities (chicken, dairy, meat) in light of several WTO decisions and rulings.


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