Food Industry Group

Hunton & Williams LLP’s food industry group leverages our extensive industry experience to help our clients overcome the unique challenges facing the food business today. Our approach involves close collaboration among our lawyers, who focus on the business objectives of our food industry clients while addressing their legal needs, providing our clients with tangible benefits that translate directly into competitive advantages.

Our food industry group represents clients in all sectors of the food industry, from agricultural commodity producers, food and beverage manufacturers, and wholesale distributors, to supermarket retailers and restaurant chains.

Representing several Fortune 100 and other food industry leaders domestically and internationally, we understand the unique challenges raised in each facet of the business today – including rising costs, increasing regulation, supply chain integrity issues, environmental concerns, complex cross-border business activity, and strategic mergers and acquisitions.

Our clients trust Hunton & Williams to address their concerns in a practical and cost-effective way. We emphasize a client-specific and business goal-driven approach that is informed by our industry knowledge and experience. Drawing on the firm’s extensive and diverse resources, we assemble client-oriented teams that may include lawyers from our food regulatory group and other practice areas such as antitrust, corporate, employee benefits, environmental, finance, governmental relations, intellectual property, labor and employment, outsourcing, privacy, real estate, securities, and tax.

Some of our most successful engagements in the food industry are based on long-term strategic partnerships with our clients, where our cross-practice group and business goal-driven approach are particularly highlighted. We welcome the opportunity to discuss a strategic partnership tailored to your company.

Representative Services

  • Acquisitions and divestitures of public and private targets
  • Antitrust counseling
  • Board of director counseling
  • Business reorganizations
  • Commercial and supply chain negotiations
  • Cross-border M&A
  • Environmental counseling
  • Food health/safety advice (including crisis management, product recall, and FDA compliance advice)
  • Immigration counseling
  • Initial public offerings
  • In-store leasing (including banking)
  • Intellectual property counseling
  • Joint venture negotiations
  • Licensing and permitting advice
  • Outsourcing advice
  • Product liability counseling
  • Public and private securities offerings
  • Real estate advice (including leases, land use, and site development)
  • Renewable energy projects (including related tax incentives)
  • Structured finance transactions (including synthetic leases, sale/leasebacks, and REITs)
  • Tax planning
  • Union and employee relations

Representative Transactions

Food Manufacturing

  • Represented the world’s largest consumer products company and largest US-based food and beverage company in more than 30 M&A transactions worldwide.
  • Represented the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer in more than 20 M&A transactions and joint ventures in the US and Europe.
  • Represented one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef, and pork for many years in its labor and employment matters, including a series of private wage-hour class actions, and an investigation and subsequent action by the US Secretary of Labor.
  • Represented the world's leading premium drinks business, with brands across spirits, beer, and wine, in matters including US and international litigation, corporate structuring and governance, employee benefits, and warehousing and supply agreements.
  • Represented several private equity funds in multiple M&A transactions and related financings with respect to producers of snack foods, specialty meats, sweets, and baked goods.
  • Represented food manufacturing joint venture entities on matters including M&A, intellectual property, and advertising.
  • Represented leading manufacturers of food processing equipment and packaging in matters including cross-border M&A, labor and employment, corporate, distribution, environmental, intellectual property, and real estate.

Wholesale Distribution and Retailing

  • Represented a leading international supermarket chain for many years in numerous corporate, litigation, labor and employment, and other matters. Our representation is performed within a strategic partnership arrangement that involves a highly coordinated team of specialists who focus on important issues that impact the supermarket industry – class action litigation, state tax issues, corporate restructurings, financings, privacy, health care reform, and technology.
  • Represented a regional wholesale cooperative from its conversion to for-profit status and IPO, through its strategic M&A program that built the fourth largest grocery wholesaler in the US and one of the largest grocery retailers in the mid-Atlantic, and ultimately in its sale. We regularly advised the board of directors and management on matters involving M&A, corporate governance, labor and employment, supply agreements, customer financings, litigation, real estate, tax planning, and intellectual property. We also applied our specialized industry knowledge in such areas as in-store leased departments, product liability, licensing, and wholesale and retail permitting.
  • Represented private equity funds in M&A transactions and financings with respect to regional grocery store chains, and related real estate, sale/leaseback, and leasing matters.
  • Represented one of the world’s largest soft drink companies in its acquisition of all outstanding shares of its two largest bottlers.

Food Service Distribution

  • Represented one of the world’s largest food service and facilities management companies in complex commercial litigation, labor negotiations, labor litigation, internal investigations, government contract litigation, privacy and data security, and corporate compliance.
  • Represented a leading family of food service distributors in matters ranging from facility construction, synthetic leases, and other real estate matters, to tax planning, loan transactions, and M&A.

Food Industry Advisory Services

  • Represented food industry advocacy groups in state and federal lobbying, labeling programs, FDA matters, intellectual property, and compliance issues.

Restaurants

  • Represented the world’s largest full-service restaurant chain in the acquisition of a national specialty retail chain from a private equity sponsor, and in numerous matters including financings, SEC reporting, governance, labor and employment, and intellectual property.
  • Represented one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies in labor and employment matters and litigation.
  • Represented a national quick-service restaurant chain for many years on all aspects of its corporate, securities, and corporate governance matters, including all of its strategic acquisitions and divestitures and compliance with securities laws, particularly with respect to disclosure and trading issues.
  • Represented the largest Canadian quick-service restaurant company in connection with a partial IPO followed by the spin-off of remaining company shares.
  • Represented several private equity funds in connection with numerous M&A transactions, including acquisitions of publicly traded restaurant companies, and real estate sales, sale/leaseback, and leasing activities.
  • Represented a national steakhouse chain in numerous purchases of franchised restaurants from franchisees, and in a recapitalization pursuant to which a private equity firm obtained a controlling interest in the company.