The week kicked-off with the news that the purchase of French cheese maker Entremont Alliance by dairy co-operative Sodiaal had been approved. A raft of M&A activity followed, with Dutch food ingredients group DSM’s acquisition of Martek Biosciences, and the purchase of 131 Czech Zabka stores by Tesco. And, some uncertainty was cast over the planned merger of Northern Foods with Greencore, when food tycoon Ranjit Boparan expressed an interest in a hostile takeover of the UK firm. Here are the top stories on just-food this week. 

The just-food management briefing – M&A in 2010
Kraft Foods’ move to buy Cadbury in January failed to spark a burst of M&A activity in the food industry, as economic conditions continued to dampen attitude to risk.

FRANCE: Paris hails completion of Sodiaal’s Entremont Alliance buy
The French government has hailed the closing of the deal that will see dairy co-operative Sodiaal acquire French cheese maker Entremont Alliance. 

Comment: Speculation over Sara Lee will rumble on
The uncertainty surrounding Sara Lee grows by the week and, in recent days, has intensified with reports that Brazilian meat giant JBS has made a takeover bid for the US food group. 

In the spotlight – DSM’s Martek buy a “strategic fit”
DSM shares climbed yesterday (21 December), on news that the Dutch food ingredients group had struck a deal to buy US-based Martek Biosciences.

Comment: Greencore merger is right direction for Northern
Northern Foods’ shares headed, well, north today (22 December) after it emerged that the UK food group, which is planning to merge with Ireland’s Greencore, could be the subject of a hostile takeover bid. 

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UK: Retailers plough on despite “challenging” weather
UK retailers have said that their services are continuing to “perform well” despite the heavy snow downfall wreaking havoc on roads this weekend. 

On the money: ConAgra CEO Rodkin certain of H2 improvement
ConAgra Foods, the US food giant, will see its business performance improve over the next six months, its chief executive has insisted, after the company booked falling first-half profits. 

UK: Unite, Heinz dispute to continue through Christmas
UK union Unite has said the meeting with Heinz to find a resolution to the ongoing dispute over pay was “disappointing” and like “shuffling the deckchairs on a ship”.

JAPAN: Kirin slashes profit forecast on National Foods write-downs
Japanese food and beverage group Kirin Holdings has slashed its profit forecast for 2010 due to JPY38.8bn (US$463.5m) of write-downs at National Foods, its dairy and juice unit in Australia. 

INDIA: Dr Oetker to build fourth plant in India
German food group Dr Oetker is planning to build its fourth – and biggest – manufacturing site in India.