The week kicked off with a significant deal in the US food industry, with Hillshire Brands striking a deal to buy Pinnacle Foods. In Australia, Goodman Fielder ended the week with an announcement its board had decided to give its support to a takeover offer from Singapore agribusiness giant Wilmar International and First Pacific, the Hong Kong investment fund.

In the spotlight: Hillshire diversifies with Pinnacle deal
Hillshire Brands today (12 May) unveiled plans to acquire US peer Pinnacle Foods in a cash-and-shares deal worth US$6.6bn. The company argues the deal will bring operational benefits, competitive advantages and cross-selling opportunities. However, the high level of debt Hillshire will take on may raise some eyebrows. Katy Askew reports.

AUS: Goodman Fielder board backs Wilmar, First Pacific bid
The board of Australian food group Goodman Fielder today (16 May) gave its support to the latest takeover offer from Singapore agribusiness Wilmar International and First Pacific, the Hong Kong investment fund.

Editor’s viewpoint: Kellogg yields to yoghurt
After seeing the boom in yoghurt sales in the US chip away at demand for breakfast cereal, Kellogg has accepted it needs a piece of the action.

BRICs and beyond: Currency controls leave Venezuelan food sector in crisis
Food manufacturers based in Venezuela have long struggled to supply the country’s oil-fuelled economy amidst strict government controls and shortages of many key industry inputs. And recent changes to the country’s currency regime could – say analysts and business leaders – intensify existing problems in the industry. Andrew Rosati reports.

Interview: Ambitious Vinamilk eyes growth at home and abroad
Multinationals have flocked to the booming dairy markets of the East, attracted by the potential rewards on offer. But in many countries homegrown giants have developed, presenting stiff competition. However, few domestic companies dominate their markets to the extent that dairy processor Vinamilk does in Vietnam. Vinamilk has ambitious goals to grow further – and not just domestically. Dean Best met Nguyen Quoc Khánh, Vinamilk’s executive director for R&D and production, at the company’s newly-built plant north of Ho Chi Minh City to find out more.

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SAUDI: Formula firms face fines over price hikes
Seven unnamed infant formula manufacturers face possible fines in Saudi Arabia over allegations they may have fixed prices. 

Comment: Organic has room to grow in US but message will be key
US organic food sales are growing significantly ahead of the wider market. But lingering confusion over the meaning of “organic” in the country is a challenge the sector must grapple with if it is to accelerate expansion, Katy Askew suggests.

BRICs and beyond: Japan’s food giants look to south-east Asia for growth
Japanese food manufacturers are targeting countries in south-east Asia as key export markets. As they extend their presence in the region, Japan’s food exporters hope to benefit from the perceived sophisticated, fashionable and healthy image of Japanese food products. Julian Ryall reports.

INDIA: GCMMF expanding production as Amul turnover spikes
India’s Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation has revealed plans to ramp up production after annual sales of the Amul brand spiked by around one-third last year.

SOUTH AFRICA: Clover to buy Dairybelle’s yoghurt, milk ops
South African dairy firm Clover Industries is to buy the yoghurt and milk operations of local rival Dairybelle’s for ZAR155m (US$14.9m).