Silver Fern Farms is dispatching the first sea-freight container shipment of chilled beef to China as part of the six-month trial to test chilled red meat access into the Chinese market.
In late June, New Zealand's first consignments of chilled meat were air-freighted from Alliance Group and Greenlea Premier Meats.
Yesterday, SFF general manager sales Grant Howie said it was understood to be the first sea-freight container to test the market.
It was important to test the market's protocols and supply chain for chilled meat at sea-ports as well as via air freight, Mr Howie said in a statement.
''With chilled product in China, we need to test the process at scale, which is why we have worked with one of our customers to take a full 20ft container of chilled product,'' he said.
The container, which leaves New Zealand this week, was due to arrive in China early next month.
One of Shanghai Maling's subsidiaries would distribute the chilled beef to some of its supermarkets in and around Shanghai. Multiple air-freight orders of beef and lamb had also been dispatched.
The beef cuts were primarily secondary cuts of prime beef, cuts that otherwise would have been sold frozen at lower prices.
''They have the capability to position these traditional Chinese cuts at a premium in supermarkets,'' Mr Howie said.
In April last year, it was announced that New Zealand and China had agreed to protocols relating to chilled meat.
Industry leaders predicted the market could add up to 64% in value to those exports to China, which were already worth nearly $1.6billion in 2015.
It had also been stated that development of the necessary infrastructure to support the exports would be critical to success.
China was New Zealand's second-largest market for beef and sheep exports. New Zealand exported about $1billion worth of frozen sheep and beef meat in the year to December 2016, a trade that had grown five-fold since 2011.
SFF was also testing protocols for small-scale air-freight orders of beef into key food service distributors who service high-end restaurants and hotels in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and an airfreight order for lamb cuts into a major multinational high-end supermarket chain.