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What the Kraft-Heinz deal means for food mergers

The merger of Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz could pave the way for future food mergers, but dealmaking will likely dip in the near term, analysts told CNBC on Wednesday.

The companies behind the deal, private equity firm 3G Capital and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, said Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share, financed by a $10 billion investment from 3G and Berkshire.

Further down the road, H.J. Heinz-Kraft Foods will likely buy more center-of-the-store grocery brands, but for the time being it will have little ability to make acquisitions, Athlos Research's Jonathan Feeney said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Read More Buffett's HJ Heinz to merge with Kraft Foods

At this point, it also seems unlikely that rivals such as PepsiCo or Tyson will make any significant purchases, he said.

The Kraft-Heinz deal will also sideline capital because it takes 3G Capital, the most active in the space, out of the picture for a while, he said. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G also partnered to purchase Heinz and take the company private in 2013.

Under the terms of the deal, Heinz will return to the public market with a 51 percent ownership of Kraft. Current holders of Kraft stock will own 49 percent of the company.

Much of the valuation in food companies has been predicated on potential interest from 3G and other private equity firms, pressuring companies to reduce costs, Feeney said.

Competitors like Kellogg and Campbell Soup are already undergoing turnarounds in their core business and as such aren't necessarily ripe for takeover, Morningstar senior equity analyst Erin Lash told CNBC.

To be sure, the industry has reached a tipping point in recent years, and consumers are moving away from big companies that make processed food, said Alexia Howard, U.S. food analyst at Sanford Bernstein.

"This is a sea change for an industry that has been very secure, very defensive, very safe over the last several decades, and now we're beginning to see the breakdown to the barriers to entry," she told CNBC. "We've seen things like Kind snack bars, and Chobani break in in a big way, and it is shaking the industry to its core."

Howard told CNBC that General Mills' purchase of natural food brand Annie's in August and Hershey's recent acquisition of gourmet beef jerky maker Krave are signs of the times.

Read More Buffett's HJ Heinz to merge with Kraft Foods

Because Kraft is not controlled by a family or foundation, the newly merged company is unencumbered in the M&A space, she said.

"The door is kind of wide open. They're probably not going to make another move immediately, but it does leave them free with the flexibility to do further moves down the road and I would expect that over the next several years," she said.

Relatively high U.S. stock prices will not necessarily dissuade companies from making purchases, said Bob Doll, chief equity analyst at Nuveen Asset Management.

"When stocks were cheap, our confidence was lower and a lot of companies just wouldn't contemplate doing deals because they were worried about their own business," he told CNBC. "Now they're feeling a little bit better about the economy, rates are still low, and yes, [stock] prices are up some, but I think the confidence has made up for that, so we're going to get more deals I believe."