African Swine Fever has played a part in China overtaking the United States as the biggest market for New Zealand beef, the Meat Industry Association (MIA) said.
By volume, China accounted or 38 per cent of the beef trade compared with 34 per cent for the United States in the 12 months to June, MIA said.
In terms of value, proportions were similar - 36 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively.
The association's chief executive Tim Ritchie said China had again been the lead performer in the meat trade over the 12 months to June.
"China has taken more than half of New Zealand's sheepmeat exports and beef exports have increased by 79 per cent by volume, overtaking the US as our largest beef market," Ritchie said.
"It's also very pleasing to see we're getting more bang for our buck off sheepmeat exports with value up six per cent on last year despite volumes remaining the same," he said in a statement.
Demand for New Zealand red meat in China had been growing before the disease arrived in Asia a year ago, but Ritchie said its onset had altered the world supply/demand dynamic.
"We have been lucky in the sense that there has been that buying demand for protein in recent years," he said.
"Right now, with the impact of African Swine Fever in China, they are talking about potentially a 25 to 30 per cent cut in production, so that has to be extraordinarily significant given pork's position as the biggest meat and with China representing about 50 per cent of the world's pork market," he told the Herald.
"Clearly, the alternative proteins have been caught up in that, and demand there has such a huge impact on the world's meat markets," he said.
Exports of sheepmeat, beef and co-products increased by 8 per cent to $8.8 billion for the year to June 2019, according to latest MIA analysis of export data.
More than 399,470 tonnes of sheepmeat was dispatched, similar to 2018 volumes, but the value of these exports increased by 6 per cent, MIA said.
For beef, export volumes were up by nine per cent to more than 453,202 tonnes with a 13 per cent increase in value.
For the month of June, beef exports to China increased to more than 25,000 tonnes, more than the annual exports to Taiwan, Japan or Korea.
The weaker UK market in the last 12 months, with overall value down by 11 per cent reflected continuing uncertainty over Brexit, he said.
China remains the largest market by value for red meat and co-products with $319m exported to the country in the month of June 2019, followed by the US and United Kingdom.
The volume of beef exports to Japan also increased by 10 per cent compared to June 2018.
Since the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into force, exports to Japan were up by 29 per cent by volume in the first half compared to the first half of last year.
CPTPP, which binds Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam in a trade deal, was formed when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement fell through early last year.
Ritchie said the UK sheepmeat market had faltered n the last 12 months, with overall value down by 11 per cent reflected continuing uncertainty over Brexit.
Meat is New Zealand's second biggest merchandise export earner after dairy, and the sector is the country's largest manufacturer, employing some 25,000 people.