New Zealand red meat exports topped $6.7 billion in the financial year to September - $1.2b up on the year prior.
Latest figures from Customs - and analysed by Beef and Lamb New Zealand this week - showed red meat exports were up 21 percent.
Beef And Lamb's chief economist said it was on the back of increased volume of lamb, mutton, and beef, and record high average values per tonne.
Andrew Burtt said it was the strongest result in years.
"From our perspective the highlights are New Zealand's red meat exports are up 21 percent, and that was across the board - across lamb, mutton and beef."
Total lamb exports were over $3.1b - up 25 percent on 2016-17, and 28 percent higher than the five-year average.
Average value of lamb exports remained at over $10,000 per tonne for the entire season. While these levels were occasionally reached in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 years, it was not sustained across the entire season.
Total mutton exports benefitted from limited international supply and strong demand to reach $618 million - up 46 percent on last year, Beef and Lamb NZ said.
Mr Burtt said good farm-gate prices and strong average values per tonne for exports occurred throughout the season, even during the fast start to the processing season driven by the dry conditions in December 2017.
He said increased demand for sheepmeat from China, particularly mutton, and tight supply from Australia and New Zealand, plus increased competition for New Zealand's sheepmeat helped to drive the result.
The United States remained New Zealand's largest beef export market, but the total share of beef decreased two percentage points to 47 percent.
"China's now the second-largest economy in the world. The US is still the largest and New Zealand has a large proportion of its meat going into the two biggest economies in the world."
Mr Burtt said China's economy continued to grow rapidly, which had had a big impact on demand, and the supply side.
"There are a whole lot of things happening in different parts of the world that we haven't seen quite so much of in a lot of media coverage, for example drought in Europe and the UK, and in parts of North America, and particularly in Australia."
He said that had led on to strong supplies of mutton from Australia but that would decline sharply with any expectation of a normal season there.