There’s a good chance that something from Kraft or Heinz is in your kitchen pantry. Even if you stick to almost all natural and organic food, perhaps you have some Heinz Vinegar or Organic Heinz Ketchup in your cabinets. Both of those are in my home from time to time.

There’s big news today about both food companies. Heinz is buying Kraft and the two companies will merge. The new company will be known as The Kraft Heinz Co., and it will be huge. Not only will one company now own Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Heinz Ketchup, but it will also own Bagel Bites, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Weight Watchers Smart Ones, Planters, Kool-Aid, Classico, Capri Sun, Oscar Meyer, Velveeta, Cool Whip and more.

The details of the merger are interesting, particularly the details that bring the changing buying habits of consumers into the picture. Last year, Kraft’s earnings fell more than 60 percent because consumers are showing a “changing taste for seemingly fresher, more natural cuisine,” according to The Wall Street Journal. I think the word "seemingly" in that sentence is important. Consumers are still buying a lot of pre-packaged, processed foods, but they’re gravitating toward ones that seem to have better ingredients.

Kraft has not done much to improve its ingredients. The company has made small moves that haven’t been impressive. Kraft took the artificial food dye out of some of its boxed Macaroni & Cheese, but not out of the most popular original version. It also removed artificial preservatives from some of its Kraft Singles, but not out of all versions. As Americans look for better, more natural or organic ingredients, little changes like those are not likely to entice consumers looking for healthier foods. It will take more sweeping changes, and this merger could be the impetus for them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, analysts say that “reworking the century-old Kraft’s ultra processed, packaged fare into something modern Americans will want to eat might be one of their first big moves.” This is speculation right now. Plans for products under the new merged company have not been revealed.

The possibility for healthier products is the positive news out of this merger. It will be interesting to watch over the next year or so and see if big changes come. Taking the artificial dye out of Kraft Original Macaroni & Cheese would be a great start. It shouldn’t be that hard to do. The Original Macaroni & Cheese in the U.K. is already made with natural food coloring because consumers demanded it. 

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Will the Kraft-Heinz merger create healthier products?
Perhaps a merger with the ketchup giant will push Kraft to improve the quality of its ingredients.