Japanese food and beverage conglomerate Kirin Holdings has confirmed that it is in merger talks with local rival Suntory.

Kirin said in a statement today (14 July) that the two are "at an initial stage of business merger discussions".

"Nothing has been resolved or reached an agreement at this stage," Kirin added.

Yesterday, Japanese business publication Nikkei reported that the two are considering a merger.

Kirin, the owner of Australia's Dairy Farmers and National Foods, responded to the reports by saying that the two "have already collaborated in various operational areas such as distribution and procurement". It did not deny, however, that talks were taking place.

Should the two companies merge, they would control around half of the Japanese beer market.

Suntory's food interests include various health food brands - including Sesamin and Power of Nature - in Japan, where it also distributes Haagen Dazs ice cream.