NEW YORK -- Kraft Heinz is attempting to buy Unilever in a $143 billion deal that would join the U.S. maker of cheeses and lunch meats with the European producer of mayo, teas and seasonings in a global powerhouse.
Unilever rejected the approach and called the price too low, while Kraft Heinz says it's still interested in a deal. The shares of both companies surged to new highs as investors saw prospects for cost cutting.
A combination of Kraft Heintz, which sells Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese, and Unilever, which owns brands including Hellmann's, Lipton and Knorr, would rival Nestle as the world's biggest packaged food maker by sales.
That might not lead to big changes that customers would notice on the supermarket shelves. But it's people's changing tastes, shifting away from boxed and canned groceries in favor of items that seem fresher or healthier, that are driving deal-making in the food industry.
Part of the challenge for companies like Kraft Heinz is the proliferation of smaller food makers marketing more wholesome products, which makes it harder for the established companies to drive up sales simply by selling more of their well-known products.