Product from Wanganui's Affco Imlay plant was approved for export to China this year, Affco director of operations Rowan Ogg says.
The company has nine slaughtering plants - all but two in the North Island - and two tanneries. Some have had Chinese export approval for longer than the Imlay plant.
The process of getting approval to sell to a new country was controlled by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Mr Ogg said.
It usually involved an audit party from another country visiting New Zealand, and included entry and exit meetings, plus plant audits, each with ministry officials. The meetings gave a full explanation of New Zealand's food hygiene system, including the electronic documentation and certification used.
"Some countries insist on auditing every plant, and some do a sample audit and let MPI undertake the rest of the audits. Chinese groups typically look at every plant," Mr Ogg said.
He did not accompany the group, and said the other Affco branch in Wanganui, Land Meat, did not have Chinese approval.
Finding markets in China was about building relationships.
"Our staff undertake market visits, and Chinese customers also visit New Zealand. It's really something that builds over time."
Marketing to China has been taking place for some time, but volumes of sales from New Zealand had increased dramatically of late, Mr Ogg said.
It was important for the country's future, and also underpinned pricing in other markets.
Affco meat had been among shipments held up in China by documentation troubles, but product was moving now.
He would not say what percentage of company sales went to China, or what the products were, because those facts were commercially sensitive.
Nor was he able to discuss the progress of talks with New Zealand's other large meat companies, Anzco, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance, which were aimed at making the red-meat industry more consistently profitable.