The park, to be located in the Mekong Delta where half of the country's food is produced, is the brainchild of investment consultant John Pike who has attracted a number of other partners. The project is expected to receive its investment license next year, Pike told AP-Foodtechnology.com. According to the investment memorandum, the 448-hectare zone will be developed over five to six years at a cost of around US$150 million. Companies who set up operations in the zone will have access to a river port for incoming raw materials, a seaport for both exports and inward bulk cargo, cold storage facilities, a testing station and laboratory to certify finished foods for export, and a training centre to educate farmers, growers and processors in quality standards. "The fundamental concept behind this is to provide a better standard of value-added food processing for Vietnamese sourced raw materials to enable the processors to expand their export potential and bring a greater measure of quality control to their operations," says the memorandum. The venture will only approve food processors that establish facilities that adhere to international standards, according to the document. The project is hoping therefore that both the processors and the park itself will be recognized as a source of quality products by foreign buyers, improving the reputation of Vietnamese processed food. Vietnam's food industry employs some 70 per cent of the country's workforce and the country is a major player in global markets for rice, seafood, spices, cashews and coffee. But there is a growing recognition that the country needs to improve its quality control and also add value to its primary industries to better compete on global markets. The country will join the WTO next month and is expecting to see growing competition. Pike says he is interested to hear from food companies and associated services interested in setting up in the park, which will be run by Hong Kong company International Food Center.