Dubai MRE company set for plant in Bruneisqwcgadmin
A FOOD company from Dubai specialising in ready-to-eat meals (MREs) made a big step forward towards setting up a production plant in Brunei after signing a Letter of Intent for cooperation in Halal food production with the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) yesterday.
The signing of the Letter of Intent took place during the morning session of the International Food and Biotech Investment Conference at The Empire Hotel & Country Club and saw the attendance of the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar as witness.
Signing on behalf of the MIPR was Haji Sabri bin Haji Mohd Taha, the Head of the Halal Industry Innovation Centre, while signing for Saahtain Food, Dubai, was its Chief Executive Officer, Adeel Khan.
Speaking to the Bulletin, Saahtain Food’s CEO said, “We want to set up a production plant here. We want to aim to produce 25,000 meals per day when we start production, and we will ramp it up to over 50,000 over the next 18 to 24 months.
“It makes sense to have a regional base here because there is a huge Muslim population here. Unfortunately, disasters happen in the region, where organisations need to be emergency-prepared, and our product allows them to be emergency-prepared,” he said.
“The regional emergency and military sector is also a market, given that we are one of the very few people who produce Halal MREs for the military.”
He said that he has been coming to Brunei for many years now, and noted that there are two things that attracted his company to the country.
“One is its strategic location. Second is the conducive and supportive environment for foreign investment, and within that I would say that the systems here are less complicated than the surrounding Asean countries.”
The MREs Saahtain Food produces are 100 per cent Halal, 100 per cent natural and highly nutritious, while also having a long shelf life of two years.
“We have the technology that allows us to manufacture for three different sectors,” he shared. “We have a brand for the humanitarian sector, where the MREs are used for humanitarian and disaster relief. We have a brand for the retail sector – for Muslims on the go. Thirdly is for the military, the defence sector.”
He also affirmed that a production plant in Brunei would mean local employment opportunities.
“Skilled labour that we require, and it is skilled labour that can be trained in food technology and in operations,” he said. “We’re very happy to employ locals.”
When asked on when they plan to start things in Brunei, he said, “We think we should be up and running in production in six to eight months. The Bio-Innovation Corridor (BIC) is phase two for us. We just want to come here and set up outside the BIC, start operations and then move to BIC in 18-24 months – whenever BIC is ready. That’s the idea.”
He also spoke on the Brunei Halal brand, saying, “We want to help take Brunei Halal to the next level in terms of market penetration and product development.”
Yesterday’s signing follows up the signing of five other contracts – one Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), one Heads of Terms agreement and three other Letters of Intent – with other international enterprises on Tuesday.
Speaking on all the signings, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources said, “The Bio-Innovation Corridor is ready for business and now entering the next crucial stage of its development.”
On Saahtain Food, the minister said, “The intention is to set up some form of production operations here.”
The company’s MREs are “easy to use”, and are good not just for military operations but also for disaster relief operations, as well as normal consumption, because it is “quality food”. He also noted that as the MREs are Halal and can be consumed by Muslims.
“Intention is to hopefully set up a production base, and more importantly, a hub,” he said. He also spoke on the previous signings on Tuesday, beginning with the Heads of Terms agreement signed between the MIPR and Mitsubishi Corporation Biotech Sdn Bhd.
The company produces Astaxanthin – a natural food colouring derived from natural resources, specifically from fresh micro algae that thrive in this part of the world.
“Their intention is not only to produce this food colouring here but also to find what else we can derive from the freshwater micro algae that thrive under conditions here,” he said.
“They have already tested a pilot plant and what they’re doing now is a scaling it up. The Heads of Terms are to do with terms of tenancy, tenure and rental. It’s quite an advanced stage of the process.”
Another document signed was a MoU with three organisations from New Zealand, namely: New Zealand Food Innovation (Auckland) Ltd, the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd and Massey University.
“This is more to do with research and development into food. It’s to share their expertise and train our people, and also to take advantage of our possible link-up with China through the Brunei-Guangxi Corridor.”
Letters of Intent were also signed on Tuesday with representatives from Yulin in Guangxi, China for cooperation in rice production and traditional Chinese medicine. Another was signed with a representative from Nanning, Guangxi pertaining to the Brunei-China Agricultural Industrial Park.
Source: Borneo Bulletin