The latest meat export figures have confirmed the rising influence of China and other Asian markets, for both sheepmeat and beef.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand statistics for the first quarter of the current export season show a 5.3 percent drop in lamb shipments was offset by an increase of almost 9 percent in the average value.
But the stand out change was a lift in mutton exports, up by more than 16 percent in volume and 22 percent in value.
Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt says China was the dominating factor there and mutton exports have doubled for the first quarter of the 2013 - 2014 season compared with the same time in the previous season.
Beef exports for the first three months were at about the same level as the previous season, but Mr Burtt says there's been a big shift in destination, with a 13 percent drop in manufacturing beef shipments to North American markets.
He says that was primarily as a result of a reduction in bull and cow processing in the first quarter this season compared with last season.
Mr Burtt says there have been increases in beef exports in Asia, and in particular in Indonesia, China and Taiwan.
He says Indonesia has relaxed some of its import regulations which has resulted increased demand, taking it back to levels of a couple of years ago before the country imposed constraints.
However, Mr Burtt says the United States is still by and far the biggest beef export market for New Zealand.