Food systems around the world experienced increased merger and acquisition (M&A) activity over the past decades. Based on a sample of 13,911M&A attempts worldwide during 1986–2006, this study provides an analysis of major determinants of M&A completion in the food processing industry. Friendly attitude, cash payment and experience with M&As emerge as strong deal facilitators. Bidding competition, pursuit of parallel transactions, target subsidiary status and acquirer public status are the most important deal breakers. Unlike the lenient antitrust approach of the Reagan administration, the 1998 UK Competition Act and various directives and regulations on food safety and quality associated with the completion of the internal European market in 1992 facilitated M&A completion. In contrast, the beginning of the Economic and Monetary Union, as marked by the introduction of the Euro in 1999, had a strong negative effect on completion likelihood. This study identifies substantial regional differences. Completion of M&As that involve Asian firms depends on distinct factors. Results for NAFTA are mostly in line with predictions derived from general economic theory, compared to other regions.