Prima Agri-Products, one of Malaysia's largest manufacturers of Halal meat products, has joined up with Australian heavyweight food maker, Comgroup, to help it tap growing demand for its products in new markets.
The firms have agreed to create a joint venture, to be called Comgroup Prima, that will take over Prima-Agri's current business supplying beef patties to fast-food giants like Burger King, A&W and TGI Fridays in Malaysia.
But it is also in negotiations to enter lucrative markets within the region such as China and the Middle East, said the companies in a release.
The deal was reached during the World Halal Forum, a conference on halal food production in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.
The demand for halal food has never been measured but estimates of its current size range from US$150 to 500 billion. It is growing with the rising purchasing power of Muslim countries.
The companies have made an initial investment of RM8 million to fund state-of-the-art equipment, production machinery and facilities at Prima Agri's manufacturing plant in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor. The plant will have capacity to make 12,500 beef patties per hour.
"The production expertise extended by Comgroup coupled with current business opportunities among international institutional buyers will give us greater opportunities to pursue the company's business growth beyond Malaysian shores and carry out product diversification," said Prima Agri's founder and chief executive YBhg. Dato Jamaluddin.
He added that Malaysia's Halal certification is recognised by Muslim export markets worldwide, giving the group's products credibility. Malaysia is aiming to become recognised as a global Halal hub.
Chris Delima, Comgroup's general manager, explained that the Australian firm already supplies leading brands in more than 26 countries.
"We are always seeking more opportunities to diversify our business especially to tap into the growing demand for Halal meat-based products in Malaysia and beyond," he said.
Prima Agri is Malaysia's largest manufacturer of Halal meat-based delicatessen products including sausages, cold cuts, sate, cook chilled sauces, soups and ready-to-eat food.
The Bandar Baru Bangi plant had also been certified with the international accreditation for complying with ISO 9001-2000, HACCP, GMP, Halal, European Union and Singapore s AVA standards. The plant is the only one in Malaysia accorded with export status to European Union for cooked and processed poultry products.
The company is also said to be considering a public listing to help fund further growth.