HJ Heinz has not been hit by the global economic slowdown and is currently on the look-out for potential acquisitions, CFO Art Winkleblack told investors yesterday (14 October).

"We continue to evaluate opportunities to grow our business with strategic acquisitions that add shareholder value," Winkleblack said at the Wachovia 2008 Consumer Growth Conference in New York.

Mounting global economic gloom has put a lot of food companies on the back foot, leading to a drop in the number of mergers and acquisitions, Winkeblack suggested. Moreover, smaller companies could increasingly seek larger partners as they wrestle with rising costs and declining consumer spending.

"The pool of potential acquisition targets is as deep as we've seen in recent history," Winkeblack observed.

In recent months, the US food giant has completed a number of acquisitions designed to boost its international portfolio. Earlier this month, Heinz announced plans to buy Australian canned fruit, vegetable and juice maker Golden Circle in a deal worth around A$288m (US$196.8m). 

In August, Heinz completed the acquisition of French sauce maker Benedicta for an undisclosed sum.