Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Halal industrial park proposed for south Wales

Halal meat
The company says that most of the halal food in the UK is imported

An industrial park for Islamic goods and produce, which could mean about 3,000 jobs, might open in south Wales.

News of the proposed £150m Super Halal Industrial Park (SHIP) was revealed at an Islamic finance summit in London.

Mahesh Jayanarayan, chairman of Halal Industries, said Wales was chosen as the project's site for its meat industries and affordable land prices.

The assembly government said they were "tenative proposals" and and it would work closely with the firm.

The firm, a private equity company, said it was raising funds for the venture, which could launch in three to five years.

Mr Jayanarayan told the Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit that Europe has no Halal industrial parks, despite being home to millions of Muslims.

Halal is an Arabic term meaning "permissible" and while it is often associated with meat, it refers to anything that is permissible in the Islamic faith.

This halal market is not going away, it is not some fad
Mahesh Jayanarayan, chairman Halal Industries

The industrial park could create up to 3,000 jobs and would make the UK a landmark Halal centre for the region, Mr Jayanarayan told the finance summit.

It would provide services like storage freezers, a product packing centre, and raw material storage for manufacturers for food production. Meat selection and processing as well as research and development would also be offered.

Mr Jayanarayan said: "If you look at some figures, the halal sector in the UK is worth between £2bn to £4bn, the majority of that is imported.

"You have 2.5 billion people on the planet eating halal food, directly or indirectly," he told the summit.

"This halal market is not going away, it is not some fad.

Halal park plan for south Wales

He said a successful first project in the UK could lead to others across Europe - possibly in France, Germany and other parts of Europe.

The businessman told the summit: "We would prefer to go to places like Bosnia, where there's a large Muslim population and economically deprived areas where we could seek EU grants.

Halal Industries is getting advisory and development support throughout the project from Penang International Halal Hub (PIHH), the agency set up for the development of Halal industries in Malaysia.

The cost of the project will be £150m and Mr Jayanarayan said he plans to raise the fund in the capital markets, through government grants, and by finding partners like supermarket chains and multinational food manufacturers to "cement the deal".

"You have to start somewhere. Most of the industrial park developers in this country will see the opportunity in this sector, and they themselves with start to develop," he said.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We are aware the company has expressed an interest in investing in Wales and have met with them to hear their proposals.

"However, these are clearly tentative proposals at their very early stages of development.

"As ever, the assembly government will work closely with any company that wishes to invest in Wales," added the spokesperson.??

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