Suntory plans to invest a total of JPY6bn (US$58m) to expand production and sales of health supplements in South East Asia, according to local reports.

The company is setting its sights primarily on South East Asia in a bid to boost overseas sales of health supplements by nearly 70% to JPY50bn by 2010, reports from Japan have said this week.

With the Japanese market not likely to post sharp growth anytime soon, the company sees South East Asia as an area where rising incomes hold the potential for steady demand, the reports noted.

Suntory's Singapore subsidiary, Cerebos Pacific, currently manufactures and sells health supplements containing such ingredients as chicken essence and bird's nests.

Cerebos plans to install another production line at a Thai factory later this year, roughly doubling its output capacity to 1,200 bottles a minute, reports suggest. It will also consider building a plant nearby in 2010. In addition, an aging facility in Malaysia will be updated next year.

Suntory will export its goods from Southeast Asia to markets such as Europe, US and Japan.

Of Suntory's nearly JPY1.5 trillion in consolidated sales for the year ended 31 December, overseas sales accounted for JPY200bn. Its expansion plans are part of an effort to raise this figure to JPY400bn by the end of 2010.