OSAKA — Suntory Ltd. said Friday that it has commissioned Castel Freres S.A. of France to produce its two major brands of wine beginning in September.

Japan’s top wine producer hopes to boost both the quality and profile of its wines by switching its production to Europe, which is widely regarded as the heart of the global wine industry, company officials said.

Domestic wine producers are fighting an uphill battle with imported wines, which are gaining popularity thanks to their high quality and relatively low prices.

The privately owned winery has reached agreement with Castel to jointly produce its Delica and Reserve brand wines at Castel’s factory for the Japanese market, the firm said.

Until now, Suntory has produced the Reserve and Delica wines at its Japanese wineries.

Suntory will also make use of Castel Freres’ distribution routes to sell its wines in Europe, company officials added.

The firm will also consider producing other brands overseas if and when such moves are deemed necessary, but relatively expensive wines — those retailing for more than 3,000 yen a bottle — will continue to be produced in Japan, they said.

Asahi sells bottle unit

Asahi Breweries Ltd. has agreed to sell its wholly owned glass bottle manufacturer to Ishizuka Glass Co. for a yet-to-be determined sum, the two companies said Friday.

Under the agreement, the major bottle manufacturer Ishizuka Glass will take a full stake in Asahi Beer Pax Co. next March, they said.

Asahi Breweries said the sale is designed to concentrate its business resources on its mainstay beer and beverage businesses as the glass bottle manufacturing business is challenged by a shift in demand to plastic PET bottles and cans.

The deal will allow Ishizuka Glass to increase its manufacturing facilities and reduce distribution costs, it said.

The latest deal follows an agreement reached in December between the two companies to consign glass bottle manufacturing to each other.

Asahi Breweries said it cannot make an estimate on how the sale will affect its earnings because the value of the sale has yet to be decided.

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