Industry focus: Food in Belgium

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird's full-service capabilities enable wide coverage in the food and beverages sector, ranging from agro-science research and development to food production, processing, distribution and packaging. Jean-Christophe Troussel leads the team alongside 'impressive' counsel Nicolas Carbonnelle, who is 'easy to work with' and 'good at translating detail into accessible advice'. Troussel balances IP and commercially oriented contentious work, including managing Le Pain Quotidien's Belgian-rooted international trade mark portfolio, as well as representing AB InBev in a board-level dispute with Heineken over new beer dispensing technology. Other clients include Dr. Oetker and Nestlé.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Christophe Troussel; Nicolas Carbonnelle

Testimonials

This team is uniquely attentive, effective at managing complex projects across regional sub-teams, and a pleasure to work with. Truly a one-stop shop for our regulatory work.

The team are very knowledgeable and approachable. They are super-responsive and able to work to tight deadlines.

Nicolas Carbonnelle is impressive. He is really easy to work with as he has a passion for the subject matter which comes across strongly, and he is good at translating detail into accessible advice for executive stakeholders. His reliability gives me confidence when working to quick turnarounds.’

Nicolas Carbonnelle is an extremely competent, reliable partner for our food regulatory work. He provides substantive guidance on all regulatory issues, project manages translation work, and simplifies the operation by serving as the point person for it all.

Key clients

Dr. Oetker

Devin

Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano

Le Pain Quotidien

McCain Alimentaire S.A. (Lutosa)

AB InBev

Nestlé

Plastipak

Work highlights

  • Managing Le Pain Quotidien’s domestic and international trade mark portfolio.
  • Advising Lantmännen Unibake on the corporate and commercial aspects of joint ventures entered into in relation to its new EU-wide MyFoodSpot e-commerce platform.
  • Acting for Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano in a dispute with a local Belgian company selling grated cheese under the name “Parmesan” over the violation of the protected designation of origin “Parmigiano Reggiano”.

DALDEWOLF

DALDEWOLF's food law group, led by Aude Mahy, handles both contentious and non-contentious matters for food and beverages business operators. Recent litigious work includes fraud, liability and contamination claims, while the team also advises on commercial distribution agreements alongside product development and recalls. Clients appreciate Mahy for her 'wealth of sector knowledge, which she applies with a lot of flair' and for being 'exceptionally skilled in regulatory as well as in food marketing-relevant topics'. The practice further benefits from multidisciplinary expertise in employment, real estate and antitrust issues.

Practice head(s):

Aude Mahy

Testimonials

The team of Daldewolf around Aude Mahy provides comprehensive, useful and pragmatic advice for clients considering not only the legal but also the economic and practical relevant issues in the food sector. Good network with competent authorities.

Aude Mahy is an outstanding lawyer due to her comprehensive experience in the food law sector. She is exceptionally skilled in regulatory as well as in food marketing-relevant topics.

Besides outstanding regulatory expertise, Aude Mahy has a wealth of sector knowledge, which she applies with a lot of flair.

Aude Mahy is not only a dedicated professional, but also a highly appreciated individual. In summary, Aude deserves all the credits!

Work highlights

  • Representing a leading Belgium-based retailer in various proceedings against its previous main meat supplier, following food fraud practices committed by the meat supplier.
  • Assisting a leading Belgian producer of cereal-based and fruit-extracts ingredients in the context of a dispute with the Belgian food safety agency regarding contaminants in food and the possibility for member states to adopt national measures departing from EU law.
  • Assisting a French retailer with the implementation of shops and running of its business in Belgium, covering food law, commercial law, IP, corporate law, market practices, VAT, real estate and administrative law.

DLA Piper

The interdisciplinary nature of DLA Piper's food and consumer goods group lends itself to supporting global organisations with the manufacturing, importing, supplying and packaging of edible produce. Key contacts include Kristof De Vulder, who handles contracts matters involving catering and infrastructure outsourcing agreements, and Bob Martens, who specialises in food regulatory cases alongside any public law or safety issues. Headed by Alexis Fierens and Frédérique Gillet, the team has a client roster featuring Coca-Cola, Philip Morris and Mondelēz; it also assisted Lotus Bakeries with navigating Belgium's new company law requirements.

Practice head(s):

Alexis Fierens; Frédérique Gillet

Other key lawyers:

Kristof De Vulder; Bob Martens

Key clients

Mondelez (formerly Kraft)

Barry Callebaut

Sodexo

Bacardi-Martini

Coca-Cola

Hard Rock Café

Philip Morris

Colruyt

Lotus Bakeries

Sodastream

Work highlights

  • Representing SodaStream in litigation before the Brussels Enterprise Court, following a challenge by its competitors on the drink packaging market.
  • Assisted Lotus Bakeries in navigating through the complexities of the major overhaul of Belgian company law that came into full effect from 1 January 2020.

Stibbe

Stibbe's broad cross-departmental team handles food and beverages advisory work as well as offering significant experience in contentious matters to clients including AB InBev, The Belgian Chocolate Group and Valorfrit. Alongside practice head Jan Bouckaert, the main players are regulatory expert Ignace Vernimme and Peter Wytinck, who specialises in competition cases. Ongoing matters include handling product manufacturing disputes and drafting distribution agreements, while IP specialist Philippe Campolini is currently acting for Belgian Shell during proceedings concerning an alleged in-store infringement of EU and Benelux-registered deli trade marks.

Practice head(s):

Jan Bouckaert

Other key lawyers:

Ignace Vernimme; Peter Wytinck; Phillippe Campolini

Key clients

AB InBev

Alpro

Barry Callebaut

Belgian breweries (Abbey of Grimbergen, Haacht, Palm, Bosteels)

Belgian Chocolate Group

Come a Casa

Culinor Group

Délifrance

Dosche Mills

Ferrero

Fevia

Greenyard

Lactalis Benelux

Nestlé Waters

Sip-well

Valorfrit

Vandemoortele

Work highlights

  • Assisting AB InBev in the context of several recent contentious and non-contentious matters.
  • Acting for Belgian Shell in a dispute with Société Louis Delhaize Financière et de Participation (DELFIPAR) over the alleged infringement of EU and Benelux-registered trade marks.
  • Assisting Vamix in a dispute relating to a collaborative research agreement regarding the development of a new shape of frozen pastry.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP's cross-departmental food and beverages team consists of corporate, IP, competition, tax and contract lawyers who provide a wide range of services in advisory or, where necessary, contentious matters. With a recent focus on M&A, the practice is also providing ongoing advice to clients in product liability claims.

ALTIUS

Known for its 'responsive and proactive' food and beverages offering,  ALTIUS advises international producers as well as domestic plant breeders, farmers and seed treatment organisations. Phillippe de Jong, who specialises in agri-food regulatory matters, patents and plant variety rights, co-heads the team with Olivier Vrins, who has a strong track record in contentious mandates concerning high-end sparkling wine. Notable clients include the Inter-Professional Association for the Protection of Champagne (CIVC), Heineken and Euroseeds.

Practice head(s):

Philippe de Jong; Olivier Vrins

Testimonials

ALTIUS were responsive and proactive. They went out of their way to help us gather the relevant evidence to support our position and even went on a fact-finding mission for us. The level of their commitment and dedication to our cause was very impressive.

Key clients

Inter-professional Association for the Protection of Champagne (CIVC)

Inter-professional Association for the Protection of Cognac

Inter-professional Association for the Protection of Bordeaux Wine

French National Institute of Origin and Quality

Agricultural Industries Confederation Ltd

Euroseeds

Weber Stephen

Heineken

Better3Fruit

SESVanderhave

Work highlights

  • Represented the Inter-Professional Association for the Protection of Champagne (CIVC) in trade mark opposition proceedings against a Czech company.
  • Represented Heineken in cross-border patent litigation over AB InBev’s alleged infringement of a European and US patent for a beer dispensing system.
  • Representing SESVanderHave in annulment proceedings brought against a Belgian regulatory act which temporarily allows the use of certain neonicotinoids on sugar beet crops under the EU Plant Protection Products Regulation.

Loyens & Loeff

Employment and labour specialist Kris De Schutter is the key name at Loyens & Loeff, which leverages its multidisciplinary expertise to offer strong corporate, IP and tax experience in matters in the food and beverages sector. The practice is currently co-representing Delhaize in proceedings against various Groep Veviba companies following the discovery of fraudulent practices by a meat supplier, and De Schutter is also known for advising on remuneration schemes. Other clients include Greenyard, Fleury Michon and Delacre.

Practice head(s):

Kris De Schutter; Gert-Wim van de Meent

Key clients

Greenyard

Fleury Michon

Eurelec

Delacre

Work highlights

  • Advising Greenyard on several issues during the Covid-19 crisis, including the implementation of temporary unemployment and a compensation mechanism to reward employees who keep coming to work.
  • Advising Fleury Michon on the employment and pension law aspects of the acquisition of 37.5% of the shares in De Gentse Kluis NV, a specialist in frozen ready meals.
  • Representing Delhaize in various proceedings against several companies from Groep Veviba following a discovery of food fraud practices committed by a meat supplier.