Regulation and Litigation Test GCs: The key trends in the food and beverage industry, according to fellow corporate counsel

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 17:28

Acritas’ data reveals how buyers of legal services within the global food and beverage industry face unique challenges when managing the legal affairs of their businesses.


Regulation, Regulation, Regulation

One-third of senior corporate counsel in food and beverage organizations*, interviewed as part of Acritas’ 2015 global Sharplegal survey, cite regulation as the key challenge facing the industry at this time.

For some, the “change in [the] regulatory positions of the government” creates challenges at home, while for other U.S. companies, it is the conflicting regulations abroad that make it difficult to do business globally, with one respondent saying, “It’s hard to be a global company when you’re facing different regulations of your product in different countries.”

After the heavy regulatory burden, businesses are facing wider challenges.


Market Conditions Still Challenging

“Market volatility and supply availability” were a major concern for one U.S. GC we spoke with. Across the world, 24 percent of Sharplegal survey respondents told us that market conditions were the next most important major challenge facing the food and beverage industry, and along with low prices and supply and demand, they were in fact the second most mentioned set of challenges facing the U.S. and global market as a whole.

One assistant chief legal in the U.S. summed up the global market feeling by confirming that “the economy and level of consumer spending” remain their biggest challenge, adding “in the very affluent neighborhoods it is fine, but in a lot of the other middle-class neighborhoods, consumer spending is still very low.”

North of the border, a Canadian GC provided more detail around the industry’s anticipated market condition challenges, which included concerns about “dealing with the variability of the price of commodities” as well as “exchange rate fluctuations.” The same worries were mentioned as a main challenge facing a GC based in the U.S, who cited “global commodity pricing swings and U.S. dollar or Canadian dollar currency fluctuation.” 


Growing Litigation

An “increasing amount of litigation” was mentioned by more than double the proportion of senior corporate counsel working in food and beverage organizations compared with both the U.S. and global markets.

Litigation in the food and beverage sector is the third biggest challenge cited by legal departments around the world. U.S. survey respondents told us that they had general concerns about litigation on the back of the “changing regulatory landscape,” as well as more specific challenges “involving claims and advertising, [and] also wage and hour type litigation.”


Join the Debate

If you would like a detailed legal spend report on the food and beverage industry in the U.S. or globally (generated from data provided by your peers), then all you have to do is complete a short Sharplegal telephone interview with Acritas. Please email Deirdre Roddy at or go to to register your interest to participate.

Acritas interviews over 2,300 senior corporate counsel across 50 countries every year for Sharplegal – the world’s most comprehensive annual study of the global legal market.