Heinz last month reported net income for 2014 dropped to $269.5 million from $284.7 million the previous year. And revenue inched up to $2.93 billion from $2.91 billion—short of the $2.99 billion company analysts had expected.
Kraft, meanwhile, has also been struggling to squeeze more profit from its product lines. In December, the company announced a shake-up, naming Chairman John Cahill to succeed Chief Executive Tony Vernon, who stepped down. Last month, its chief financial officer left and two other senior executives announced they were leaving.
The company said the moves were aimed at boosting growth. Kraft reported a net loss of $398 million for last year's fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $931 million a year earlier. Revenue rose just 2.2 percent to $4.69 billion.
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The new owners, 3G Capital, have been investing heavily in food and beverage companies with an eye to boosting profits by cutting costs. In August 2013, Heinz announced layoffs of about 350 workers at its Pittsburgh headquarters, with additional job cuts coming worldwide. 3G Capital has applied a similar strategy in acquisitions of fast food giant Burger King and beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev.
In announcing the Heinz-Kraft deal, the companies said they see "significant synergy potential" of as much as $1.5 billion in annual cost savings by the end of 2017.
"Synergies will come from the increased scale of the new organization, the sharing of best practices and cost reductions," the companies said.
"This is just a reflection of the bigger structural changes in the U.S. food industry at the moment," said Alexia Howard, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein & Co. "It really shows that 3G sees a lot of cost coming out of the whole area of U.S. food."