Industry watchers have forecast further consolidation in the confectionery sector but there has been an absence of major deals in 2011 – until today, when Scandinavian candy makers Cloetta and Leaf International announced plans to merge. Elsewhere in Europe this week, Carrefour tabled a bid to buy French franchise partner Guyenne et Gascogne. Findus Group’s French operations, meanwhile, grabbed the headlines with news that private-equity owner Lion Capital ended talks to sell the business to rival buy-out house Permira. And Diamond Foods’ deal to buy snacks brand Pringles looks uncertain amid news that the SEC is to investigate crop payments made at the company.

SWEDEN: Confectioners Cloetta and Leaf to merge
Swedish confectionery companies Cloetta and Leaf International today (16 December) announced plans to merge.

Talking shop: Carrefour’s Guyenne et Gascogne dilemma
Carrefour, the world’s second-biggest retailer, is set to buy its French retail franchise partner Guyenne et Gascogne in a deal worth nearly half a billion euros. The move raised eyebrows across the retail sector, considering the supermarket giant’s domestic woes. Sam Webb reports.

US: Diamond faces SEC probe
Beleaguered snack company Diamond Foods faces a probe from a US stock market regulator over the company’s own inquiry into walnut crop payments.

US: PepsiCo heads back to basics as pressures mount
PepsiCo’s “indulgent” businesses remains important to the company, a senior executive has assured investors, amid concerns that the US food and drink giant is focusing too much on healthier products.

US: Major food firms sue US egg producers
Four of the world’s biggest food firms have accused US egg producers of operating a price-fixing cartel.

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By GlobalData

FRANCE: Lion calls off talks to sell Findus France to Permira
Private-equity firm Lion Capital has suspended talks to sell its Findus unit in France to a potential buyer, thought to be rival buy-out house and Iglo Group owner Permira.

UK: UK needs to regain export initiative – FDF
The UK food industry “needs to do more” to regain ground in export markets amid signs that the country is losing sales to competitors.

CHINA: Nestle to close Shanghai ice cream plant
Nestle plans to close a factory in Shanghai as it looks to refocus its ice cream business in China.

Sustainability Watch – Child labour in cocoa production
Nestle’s plan to partner with the Fair Labor Association in investigating the use of child labour in its cocoa supply chain could raise the bar in terms of corporate accountability regarding this long-running problem. Ben Cooper reports