Japan's Meiji Dairies and the country's number two confectionery maker Meiji Seika today (11 September) confirmed that they will merge next year, forming a newly-created holding firm, Meiji Holdings Corporation.

The merger will create Japan's fifth-biggest food company with annual sales topping JPY1trn (US$9.29bn).

The deal merger will be completed by 1 April, the companies said.

A Meiji Dairies spokesman told just-food that both firms had formally approved the decision at their respective board meetings, which were held earlier today.

"The background for the amalgamation is firstly down to our domestic markets shrivelling owing to Japan's ageing society, the soaring prices of food resources and thirdly the intensive competition we face in the food industry," the spokesperson said.

The merged entity will have interests in dairy, confectionery and medical markets.