Wholesale food distributors perform a unique and indispensable role in assuring that America’s commercial food chain operates safely, efficiently, responsibly and successfully.

Mandatory licensure and comprehensive regulation are part-and-parcel of the food distributor’s existence. Maintaining the security and integrity of food inventories, while assuring the timely transportation and delivery of products, are critical responsibilities for America’s food wholesalers. The lawyers and professionals of our Food Law Team work hard every day to help wholesalers meet those responsibilities.

From the wholesaler networks spanning multiple states and distributing hundreds of established brands across diversified product lines, to the specialty houses focusing on wholesaling particular artisanal products in specific markets, our Food Law Team helps distributors maintain their licensure requirements, meet their compliance responsibilities, and achieve their business objectives. We combine the talents and capabilities of experienced attorneys, former federal and state industry regulators, and skilled licensing specialists to provide the broadest range of support services to wholesalers.

Examples of the way we can help include:

  • Start-Up

    We have extensive experience working with new "niche" entrants to the food industry, as well as with experienced players who are diversifying with new brands from different product lines of the industry, and/or implementing innovative business concepts to strengthen their market positions. We provide guidance and assistance for Start-Up issues ranging from warehouse and vehicle procurement and capitalization to market penetration and mid-long term planning.

  • Licensure

    We handle food transportation and distribution licensure at the federal, state and local levels for locations throughout North America. Additionally, we work with clients to secure all required operating and collateral licenses associated with their businesses, including local health, safety and occupational permits.

  • Contracts

    Preparation and negotiation of key contracts is vital to success in the alcohol industry. Our services in this area include drafting distribution agreements with suppliers, sub-distribution agreements with other licensed wholesalers, transportation contracts, bills of lading, etc.

  • Registration and Record-Keeping

    Because commercial food distribution is a regulated industry, food distributors must produce and maintain records that are accurate and complete. Moreover, because of the unique health and safety concerns associated with our public food chain, wholesalers are obligated to meet their federal and state registration responsibilities; failure to do so can jeopardize a wholesaler’s licensure, which directly impacts the ability to remain in business. We provide comprehensive assistance with registration and record-keeping responsibilities.

  • Marketing

    In today’s world, with the unprecedented proliferation of food brands and industry members, the ability to distinguish a particular wholesaler or a specific value-added distribution service is fundamental to success. While advancing technology presents extraordinary new opportunities for marketing and promotion, the regulatory restrictions applicable to food produce concomitant compliance risks. Our Food Law Team provides specific advice regarding marketing, advertising and promotional activities, including issues relating to tastings and samplings, coupons and sweepstakes, social media marketing and the use of third-party service providers.

  • Compliance

    Unlike most other consumer products, commercial food presents industry members with huge compliance challenges because pertinent state laws and regulations vary throughout the country. We counsel clients on trade practice and compliance issues at the federal, state and local levels on issues ranging from supplier relations and compliance with local marketing orders, to product recalls and compliance with federal requirements such as DOT transportation permitting. 

  • Government and Public Relations

    Legislative change is rarely easy, but sometimes it is vital to development and growth. We have proven experience in securing needed legislative changes for clients, working with alcohol industry members to design and implement strategic public relations and legislative lobbying campaigns, including the drafting of proposed legislation and regulatory rulemaking. 

  • Enforcement

    In a regulated industry, the risks of regulatory enforcement always are substantial. In especially competitive markets, these risks often escalate because competitors do not hesitate to complain to regulators whenever they perceive an alleged violation that arguably yields an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Whether in the form of an audit, subpoena for records, or institution of formal administrative proceedings, our Food Law Team’s professionals are experienced at protecting client’s rights defending their interests against administrative actions at the federal or state levels.

  • Dispute Resolution

    Disputes can arise from any number of sources: government agencies, members of the public, and even other food industry members. Whether those disputes ripen into litigation often depends on the initial actions and reactions of the relevant parties. Our experience proves that skilled communication and strategic planning often can avert litigation, saving all parties time, effort and expense. Our unique combination of lawyers and former regulators, along with our experience representing all tiers and segments of the industry, enable us to offer food industry clients unparalleled mediation capabilities that can identify key issues, overcome inter-company obstacles and resolve disputes before control is ceded from the parties to the courts. When mediation is not an option, our trial lawyers have decades of experience with litigation and arbitration, including supplier termination, contract enforcement, and product liability matters. 

  • Education and Training

    We use the experience and knowledge of our Food Law Team’s attorneys and former regulators to develop tailored education and training programs that emphasize best practices while encouraging compliance. Whether in the format of a live presentation before an in-house classroom audience, or a company-wide online webinar, we can devise programs that add value by increasing employee education about alcohol trade practice DOs and DON’Ts while reducing both compliance and liability risks.

  • Research and Insights

    Our attorneys and former regulators stay current on food industry developments, and work to identify developing trends ahead of the market curve. That prowess can be invaluable for wholesale distributors who seek a competitive and strategic edge. We offer such clients leading-edge industry research and reports that provide critical information and insights needed to make important mid-and long-range business decisions. Our Food Law Team brings complex information together and makes it understandable so our clients can stay ahead of emerging trends.