Ajinomoto Co Inc , Japan's largest seasoning maker, and another Japanese food manufacturer, House Foods Corp , said on Wednesday that they had set up a Chinese joint venture to produce ready-to-eat foods. The venture, Shanghai House Ajinomoto Foods Co Ltd, was set up on October 31 and plans to start producing at the end of next year a packaged curry that has been pre-heated, which the partners said would be appealing to Chinese consumers. The companies said that the move was aimed at taking advantage of a likely increase in demand for such products in major cities of China, which will become a member of the World Trade Organisation in December. The Ajinomoto group, which began selling its products in China in 1914, took 70 per cent in the joint venture, which was capitalised at $9.7 million. House Foods took the rest. The Shanghai-based joint venture is expected to hire about 200 people, they said. Prior to the announcement, shares in Ajinomoto dropped 2.13 per cent to 1,243 yen, while House Foods was down 1.46 percent at 1,011 yen. They underperformed the benchmark Nikkei 225 share average , which gained 0.56 percent on the day.