Sectors

Food & drink

Experience

The food and drink sector is fast-moving, fiercely competitive, high-profile and highly regulated. With in-depth expertise across all areas of this diverse industry, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co is helping clients to achieve their commercial objectives against the backdrop of a challenging business environment.

Clients including Bakkavor, My Goodness Shakes, Coca Cola, Premier Foods, United Biscuits and Birds Eye Iglo call upon our sector specialists for fast, efficient and accurate advice.

They can rely on us to:

  • Provide commercial insight and sensitivity to operational challenges - we understand that margins are under pressure, which in turn puts pressure on food manufacturers to improve productivity without compromising food safety standards
  • Be up to speed on market developments - helping clients to respond to changing regulations and the latest legislation. We know our co-packing from our GSCOP!
  • Provide innovative, pragmatic solutions from field to fork - we offer full service expertise throughout the lifecycle of a product - from supply chain management to leveraging value and protecting IP.

This sector-focused approach is why Premier Foods turned to us to advise on its £182 million disposal of its canned grocery operations to Princes Limited. Our ability to handle every aspect of the transaction - from corporate to commercial, IP to real estate, competition to regulatory - highlights our full service expertise in this sector.

Logistics and warehousing can be a significant cost. A team led by David Lowe helped Birds Eye Iglo Group on its multi-million pound UK and global logistics contract with DHL and its national UK frozen food warehousing arrangements with Partner Logistics. Highly innovative, our specialists ensured that the arrangements were structured to protect our client's commercial interests.

When it comes to regulation, speed and accuracy of advice is critical. If a product is recalled, the business risks significant reputation damage and profit loss. With substantial experience in advising clients through all stages of product recalls, clients are in safe hands. Supporting on one of the biggest, high-profile recalls of the last decade, Andrew Smith and Andrew Litchfield quickly stepped in to take control of the situation. Advising on not only the recall itself, they supported on the management of claims from customers and negotiations with the regulatory enforcement agencies.

Solutions to industry-specific issues

However complex or unusual, pose our regulatory experts a problem, they will find the solution. One day might see them field queries relating to labelling, the next on the importation of novel foodstuffs. When trading standards attempted to impound more than £100,000 worth of a client's packaging, we challenged the decision and released the stock, avoiding the client's production line grinding to a halt.

Brand and promotion is also key. Led by Dan Smith, our advertising and marketing law experts advise on the full spectrum of issues - social media, naming rights, sponsorship and events, ambush marketing and advertising, and marketing generally. They understand the delicate balance between complying with strict advertising regulations and the importance of effective marketing in a competitive marketplace.

This competitive environment has led to increased consolidation. Specialist employment and pensions advice is essential as mergers inevitably create legacy issues. As well as advice on cultural change and changing terms of employment, experience also includes advising global food and drink brands on issues such as litigation, age discrimination, TUPE in the context of product licensing and offshoring and agency worker issues.


International focus

Our international team reflects the global nature of the food and drink sector. Munich-based director Dr Ina Gerstberger has a strong track-record in delivering IP, regulatory and contractual advice to the food sector. A specialist in intra-European matters and novel foods, she is able to guide clients through all stages of project development; including assessment of new product ideas, drafting commercial agreements and advice on marketing measures, statutory labelling, notification or authorisation requirements.

Giving you the right answer, fast

Being up to speed with the latest sector developments means we get to the right answer, fast. Take GSCOP. Our insight into how the industry is using the code, its benefits and shortcomings, means we can provide advice rooted in commerciality. We were delighted to host a meeting between our major food and drink sector clients and the GSCOP Adjudicator.

Results for clients


Advising the UK's largest food producer on £182 million disposal

A stand-out transaction showcasing our full service expertise in the sector saw our team advise Premier Foods, the UK's largest food producer, on the £182 million sale of its Canned Grocery Operations to Princes Limited.

The deal included the sale of a number of famous brands such as Crosse & Blackwell, Fray Bentos, Farrows and Smedleys.

Calling upon a cross-firm team of experts in corporate, commercial, IP, employment, competition, property, environment and health and safety ensured the client had specialist, sector-focused advice throughout the lifecycle of this strategically important transaction.


Innovative logistics and warehousing solution for Birds Eye Iglo Group

Our commercial specialists advised Birds Eye Iglo Group Limited on a multi-million pound logistics and warehousing deal double. The work involved advising the company on its key frozen food warehousing arrangements. An innovative approach ensured the arrangements were structured to protect Birds Eye's commercial interests. So innovative, the work was shortlisted for a Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Award.

The client praised the team for "guiding the business throughout this complex, multi-faceted transaction" with "real commercial understanding of the issues facing the business."


Advising a food import business on cross-border regulatory issue

Our regulatory experts represent companies, trade associations and consumer bodies in their dealings with government and regulators. Providing support and advice in all areas of food law and representing a range of companies operating in the food and drink sector, our clients include a number of household names.

Experience includes advising a food import business on the detention by a Port Health Authority of an imported seafood product on the basis that it contained prohibited levels of a certain substance. Calling upon our specialist regulatory law expertise, we successfully overturned the detention order.


Expert brands advice for a global food manufacturer

A global food manufacturer turned to us to advise on issues such as the acquisition of leading domestic consumer brands and the licensing of the ‘brand split' of some of its key subsidiary brands. We also provided the business with specialist advice on a new branded product launch and co-packer agreement.

David Lowe

David is a partner in our commercial contracts team drafting and negotiating a wide range of contracts. Key areas are procurement, supply chain, facilities management, property management, outsourcing, logistics, manufacturing, supply of goods and services, international trade, consumer and travel law.

Andrew Smith

I resolve commercial disputes. When not doing that I am advising on risk and therefore trying to avoid disputes. For the majority of disputes the challenge is to achieve advantage for clients in the constantly shifting balance between the merits of a case set against the costs of fighting it.

John Cooper

As a partner in the public law and regulation team, I advise regulators, consumer councils, trade associations, listed companies, small and medium enterprises, and other public and private bodies on a range of public law issues.

Key contacts

Andrew Litchfield
Partner

Andrew Litchfield

I am a partner in the regulatory litigation practice. I advise clients on the realities of criminal prosecution for a variety of offences including health and safety, environment, food safety and trading standards.

Dan Smith

Dan's in-depth knowledge of the industry and his ability to provide clear, no nonsense recommendations, within even the tightest creative or print deadlines, make him the person to call with any advertising, marketing, sponsorship or media query.

Key contacts

Dr Ina Gerstberger
Director

Dr Ina Gerstberger

Ina heads our German Food & Drink and Life Sciences Team. She is an experienced German qualified lawyer (Rechtsanwältin) with a scientific background in biochemistry drawing back upon more than 13 years' experience in delivering regulatory, IP and contractual advice. She represents companies marketing foodstuffs, feedstuffs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics or household products.

Key contacts

Kate Swaine
Partner

Kate Swaine

I am a partner in the Intellectual Property team and specialise in brand and design protection, clearance and enforcement.

  • David Lowe
    David Lowe
    Partner
  • Andrew Smith
    Andrew Smith
    Partner
  • John Cooper
    John Cooper
    Partner
  • Andrew Litchfield
    Andrew Litchfield
    Partner
  • Dan Smith
    Dan Smith
    Director
  • Dr Ina Gerstberger
    Dr Ina Gerstberger
    Director
  • Kate Swaine
    Kate Swaine
    Partner

Media comments and client views

Andrew Smith handles disputes and product recall in the food and drinks sector, with John Cooper specialising in food labelling and regulatory matters.

Since the move of the recommended industry expert Dr. Ina Gerstberger, the British law firm quickly established a visible practice for the food industry with a strong perception on demarcation issues and novel foods. The team also works in relation to health-related foods, demarcation issues with pharmaceuticals, feedstuffs as well as on unfair competition law suits.