The head of a New Zealand meat company is anticipating a rapid growth in beef exports to China, on the heels of an already surging sheepmeat trade there.
ANZCO Foods executive chairman Sir Graeme Harrison was part of Prime Minister John Key's trade mission to China.
Sir Graeme says opportunities for beef have been opening up for New Zealand since Chinese officials started issuing volume permits for beef imports last year.
He says beef to the value of $9 million was exported to China in 2010, this year the figure will be $90 million, and, he estimates, this will grow to $250 million by 2015.
Sir Graeme says it's possible to see the potential for a $500 million - $1 billion trade in beef.
He says sheepmeat exports will probably reach $450 million this year and if casings, wool and lamb pelts are included, the New Zealand sheep farming sector will earn $1 billion from China.
Sir Graeme says he made the first sale of New Zealand sheepmeat to China in 1985.