Three meat companies have joined forces with the Meat and Wool organisation to identify opportunities for New Zealand meat in China's high-value food sector.
Alliance Group, ANZCO and Silver Fern Farms have an interest in exporting to China which has traditionally been a market for lower value sheepmeat.
Last year Invercargill-based company Blue Sky meats announced it was planning to explore ways to export high-value cuts to China, but this is the first collective approach by the sector.
Meat and Wool chief executive Scott Champion said the project follows research carried out last year on identifying opportunities for selling lamb in Russia, India, China, and Eastern Europe.
He said it appears that most of the immediate opportunities for growth lie in China, which is currently worth $70 million to $80 million a year, mainly in lower value cuts.
Mr Champion said the project is looking at how to develop the market for the higher value end of the market.
He said the first step will involve an audit and evaluation of the market, part of which will be funded Trade and Enterprise, with the rest being met jointly by the meat companies.