A delegation of New Zealand's main meat industry players is heading to China next week to show a united front in a rapidly growing market which shows no sign of slowing.
Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer said all the main meat exporters would be part of the delegation, representing more than 95 percent of meat exports.
The trip was all about building relationships, Mr Falconer said.
"With the growth that has taken place in that market over the last 12 months, in particular, we've realised we don't really have a New Zealand presence there as opposed to a company presence.
"And what we thought we should do is put together a team to make ourselves known to not just our Chinese customers but the Chinese regulatory authorities that we deal with."
Mr Falconer said it was not long ago that China was just a small market for New Zealand's red meat exports but that was changing rapidly.
"Now it takes as much of our sheepmeat as we send to Europe, so it's become our second-largest market and it requires the attention that we've given to the European market and, of course, to the American for beef over the last 50 to 100 years or so," he said.
In 2013, 36 percent of all New Zealand's sheepmeat went to China and 10 percent of its beef.