Experts this week dismissed speculation about a dramatic move by fmcg ­giant Procter & Gamble for its arch rival Unilever.

Reports from the US suggested P&G was lining up a bid worth £38bn, in what would be one of the biggest-ever deals in the sector. However a senior global investment source told The Grocer the idea was a non-starter and described the reports as "nonsense".

A spokesman for P&G also poured cold water on the story. "What we can tell you is that we are primarily focused on growing our business organically," he said.

Any deal was likely to fall foul of competition issues on both sides of the Atlantic, despite reports that P&G was looking to ­address them by lining up bidders such as Nestlé and Reckitt Benckiser for the parts of the Unilever business it either did not want or would be forced to off-load, said analysts.

Another senior banking source said the deal made little sense as Unilever retains a massive food business, while P&G sold off its last major food brand, Pringles, to Diamond Foods in April.