Malaysia is to set up a halal food conglomerate with companies from China and the Middle East as part of its campaign to promote the country as a hub for Muslim food.

The Malaysian government believes that the lucrative market for halal food remains relatively untapped, for instance in China where there are 50 million Muslims alone.

Kuala Lumpur says the matter will be discussed with a group of Muslim businessmen and leaders from China who are scheduled to visit the country next month. "Halal Muslim products have a worldwide market," said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, adding that Malaysian food processors were seeking joint ventures with other Muslim countries.

By Mark Rowe, correspondent