Very little research has been done on the impact of mergers, divestitures, and leveraged buyouts on the American consumer. The U.S. food marketing system had nearly 400 mergers and leveraged buyouts in 1996, bringing the 15-year total to about 6,400. In 1996, all indicators show that consumers were not adversely affected by this level of activity, although profitability and owners' equity continue to skyrocket. This presentation examines the consumer's welfare indirectly by looking at key economic indicators of the food marketing system in 1996-such as retail food prices, advertising expenditures, new product introductions, research and development, profitability, and equity appreciation.


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