The value of mergers in the U.S. food marketing system in 1988 reached the highest level in U.S. history. The four largest mergers announced or completed were valued at $47 billion compared with the previous high of $26 billion in 1985 for all recorded transactions. Sales of the Nation's food marketing system reached $638 billion. Advertising expenditures rose to an estimated $11.5 billion. About 10,600 new grocery products were introduced. The Nation's food processors spent $8.5 billion on new plant and equipment, including 369 new plant projects. The seventh consecutive balance of trade deficit in processed foods fell from $5.6 billion in 1987 to $3.3 billion in 1988. U.S. food marketing firms invested $16 billion abroad in 1987, while foreign firms invested $22.5 billion in U.S. firms.