Political upheaval around the world, including Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, have pushed mergers and acquisitions in the FMCG area to their lowest levels for five years, a new report has said.

The total value of worldwide M&A activity among the top 50 consumer goods giants fell sharply from US$226bn in 2015 to $50bn in 2016, according to the OC&C Strategy Consultants' 15th annual Global 50 report. The report said factors including the UK's decision last year to leave the EU and November's US presidential election have left companies wary of "pulling the M&A trigger".

"The bottom fell out of consumer goods M&A in 2016, and political uncertainty has undoubtedly played a significant part in this," Will Hayllar, a partner at OC&C and head of its consumer goods practice, said.

The report said the lack of M&A activity was particularly notable because organic revenue growth is at an historic low. In such a situation, activist shareholders often put companies under pressure to spend on acquisitions and stimulate growth.

"There's more reason than ever for M&A activity," Hayllar said. "Clearly, events across Europe and the US made many cautious."

The OC&C Global 50 report, produced in collaboration with UK trade publication The Grocer assesses the performance of the world's 50 largest FMCG businesses, ranked on their sales.

Looking ahead, the report said the first half of 2017 has pointed to a recovery for M&A. Between January and May, ten deals with a combined value of $87bn were announced.