It was a case of eat or be eaten this week as trade buyers took to the aisles, snapping up the supply chain and highlighting their increasing clout against the private equity big boys.

Unilever gave with one hand and took away with the other, snapping up Alberto Culver for a cool £2.3bn and putting its iconic Chicken Tonight and Ragu brands on the chopping block. Meanwhile, soap-maker PZ Cussons hit the self-tan bottle with a swoop on St Tropez.

As a licensing dispute continues to complicate the sale of yoghurt-maker Yoplait across the Channel, business secretary Vince Cable will have a tough job on his hands if he wants to keep UK businesses in the family. Doing deals in Blighty certainly looks attractive and if Shanghai's Bright Food's reported interest in United Biscuits is anything to go by, the Chinese agree.

As our 2010 list of the 50 fastest-growing private food and drink players reveals, this looks like just the start of it. Niche but rapidly growing brands are likely to attract the eye of Asian trade buyers who have fire in their bellies and a taste for the West.