The meat industry fears its chilled lamb export trade will be threatened, if shipping services to New Zealand are down-graded.
A Shipping Council report warns New Zealand's meat exports will suffer, if ports don't upgrade to handle a new generation of bigger container ships now coming into service.
Chilled lamb which now makes up about a quarter of annual lamb shipments, has a shelf life of only 70 days from when it's processed to its use by date.
The Meat Industry's Association says because ships have reduced speed to reduce fuel costs, its now taking longer to send the meat to Europe than it used to.
Chief executive Tim Ritchie says if that's increased because New Zealand does not have access to larger container vessels, it will threaten the feasibility of the trade.