Business Strategies

2016 Showed Near-Record Year for Merger & Acquisition Activity

The 505 deals tracked by the Food Institute just beat 2014’s 503 deals, but remained well under 1999’s record 813 deals.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor-in-Chief

2017 TOP100 Mergers ChartFood industry mergers and acquisitions nearly set a record in 2016, according to data from The Food Institute. The 505 deals squeaked past 2014’s high of 503 deals, but remained well under 1999’s record 813 deals.

Food processors were the most active (the Food Institute has a much broader definition of the "food industry"), increasing 6 percent from their 2015 figure (135). Small, specialty companies continued to be popular among manufacturers, as many processors opted to acquire artisan brands rather than start from scratch.

Examples: Hormel Foods Corp. acquired Justin’s LLC, a producer of specialty nut butters; Hershey Co. bought Ripple Brand Collective LLC, the maker of the barkThins snacking chocolate brand; and Jack Link's Protein Snacks acquired Grass Run Farms' meat snacks division.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group snapped up Bai Brands, maker of trendy antioxidant-infused beverages. Pilgrim's Pride bought GNP, parent of the Gold'n Plump brand of natural poultry.

The largest merger in the category was Danone’s acquisition of WhiteWave Foods Co. for $12.5 billion. The deal, just completed this year, doubles the size of the French company's U.S. business – which has been renamed DanoneWave.

The Food Institute report can be ordered online at or you can contact April Brendel at 201-791-5570x218 or