A Whakatu company has signed a deal to supply Singapore Airlines with sausage casings.

Luke Kavanagh and Ron Robbie established NZCC three years ago and the company currently processes 300km of sheep intestines a day.

The casings are exported to sausage manufacturers and specialty butchers overseas because New Zealanders prefer larger sausages, which usually use artificial collagen cases.

The larger New Zealand sausage makers were clients but 95 per cent of casings were exported, Mr Kavanagh said.

"Natural sheep casings are more suited to traditional breakfast sausages, which are predominately consumed by Europeans."

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Like many New Zealand exporters of primary produce the focus is shifting to Asia. As well as the agreement to supply Singapore Airlines' sausage manufacturer, NZCC recently extended a contract with one of Japan's largest sausage makers.

Mr Kavanagh said the Singapore deal was an "unbelievable opportunity".

"It's not a market we considered getting into, but the opportunity came up. We are now keen to explore supplying other airlines."

NZCC employs 40 staff in its Whakatu plant at present and plans to hire more as its global footprint expands.

The local supply and processing was a good reason to remain in Hawke's Bay as provenance increasingly becomes a competitive advantage.

The natural product has a reputation for superior eating experience. As the company logo says: It takes guts to make the perfect sausage.

"Our future export plans include the United States, which we are currently scoping out. Our goal is to take this product out of the commodity scene and find more end users and we have the experience, skills and raw material to do that."

For centuries sheep casings were popular as condoms but fell out of popularity with the use of latex and then the Aids virus. While the animal membrane prevents pregnancy it does not prevent the spread of disease, but condoms made from casings are still available as a premium product for couples.

NZCC Ltd is separate from Christchurch company New Zealand Casing Company Ltd, said to be the world's largest natural sausage-casing company until operations were changed after a takeover by an overseas food company in 1997.