July 27/Calgary, Alb./Calgary Herald -- Two out of three U.S. food and beverage executives see their companies being involved in a merger or acquisition over the next two years, as they seek to streamline portfolios and put cash reserves to work.

According to a survey by U.S. audit firm KPMG, 67% of executives said it is likely their companies will participate in merger activity over the next two years, with a rough split between likely buyers and likely sellers.

One of the main motivations for sellers is that they probably have brands they do not want to invest in any more, but were unable to unload during the downturn, said Patrick Dolan, the leader of KPMG's consumer markets and food and beverage practice in the United States.

"It's not like they're desperate to get rid of them but they really do want to reinvest the money in some brands that make more sense for their strategy," Dolan said in an interview.

He said sellers were getting more realistic about the prices their assets were likely to fetch, making it easier for sellers and buyers to agree. He said buyers were being motivated by pressure from shareholders to make use of cash piles that are otherwise not earning high returns.

The consumer goods sector has always been fertile ground for mergers and acquisitions, but mega-deals like Kraft Foods Inc.'s purchase of Cadbury have been rare since the economic downturn.

From the July 27, 2011,Prepared Foods' Daily News.