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Food, Beverage & Agribusiness

Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
Expertise / Sectors / 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.

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Recent Experience


  • McCain Foods Limited on the C$50-million investment round in Simulate Labs and related commercial matters

  • Bespoke Capital Acquisition Corp. on its merger with Vintage Wine Estates.

  • Encore Consumer Capital in connection with its investment in Open Farm.

  • Nutrien Ltd., through one of its wholly owned subsidiaries, on the sale of its stake in Misr Fertilizers Production Company S.A.E. (MOPCO) to the Government of Egypt and in connection with the settlement of all arbitration claims made against the Government of Egypt and MOPCO’s affiliate, the Egyptian Nitrogen Products Company S.A.En. for an aggregate amount of US$540-million​.

  • Nutrien Ltd. on its proposed 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.

  • Nutrien Ltd. on its acquisitions of Agrichem do Brasil S.A., a Brazilian specialty fertilizer business, and Macrofertil Australia Pty Ltd., an Australian-based fertilizer trading, storage and distribution business.

  • Nutrien Ltd. on its proposed A$470-million acquisition of Ruralco Holdings Limited.

  • Maple Leaf Foods Inc. on the acquisition of Light Life Foods, Field Roast and Viau Foods and the sale of its animal nutrition and Rothsay businesses.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Nutrien Ltd. in connection with its C$1.8-billion supported funding of Glencore International plc’s C$6.1-billion acquisition of Viterra Inc. and the subsequent acquisition by Nutrien Ltd. of Viterra’s wholesale and retail agri-products division, including businesses, properties and assets in Canada and Australia and a series of related third-party sale and required divesture transactions.

  • Instacart’s acquisition of Toronto-based Unata Inc., a provider of digital solutions for grocers.

  • Ceres Global Ag Corp. in connection with its acquisition of Nature’s Organic Grist, LLC, a supplier of organic and ancient grains, milled flours, and feed products.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev on its acquisition of SABMiller.

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

  • 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

  • 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 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.

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

  • A multinational confectionary manufacturer on advertising and regulatory issues.

  • A multinational food manufacturer on the risk of being challenged by regulators and competitors on its aggressive product claims.

  • An alcoholic beverage company regarding regulatory issues in launching innovative products.

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