U.S. chocolate company Hershey Co held very preliminary talks with Italian chocolate maker Ferrero SpA about a potential joint bid for Cadbury Plc , a source familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.

It's very preliminary. Very early in the process, said the source, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A joint bid would seek to thwart Kraft Foods Inc's $16.2 billion hostile takeover bid for Cadbury, which the British confectioner has dismissed as too low and strategically unsound.

(Reporting by Jessica Hall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)