The growing influence of China has shown up in mutton exports. Statistics from Beef and Lamb New Zealand show shipments increased by 17 percent over the first nine months of the export season.
Beef and Lamb says the carcass trade driven by China, has continued to grow at the expense of higher value cuts.
It says while the value of mutton carcass exports rose by 7 percent, to more than $4500 a tonne, the average value of bone-in and boneless cuts increased by 23 and 25 percent to more than $5700 per tonne.
Beef and Lamb's chief economist Andrew Burtt says while exporters are responding to the demand from China, it's difficult to say whether the trend in the carcase trade will continue.
"Exporters are clearly going to be responding to different market demands in their own objectives and profit motives, so it's always dificult to say what the right thing is for the industry over all when those companies all have different mixes of supplies and demands," he says.
"It would appear that trade of carcases is profitable for exporters into China particularly, but they will also be looking at the risk that entails in relying more on China for carcase or mutton exports, at the expense of other markets.
"Exports of higher earning chilled lamb have also fallen by more than 6 percent, with less lamb going to the traditional European Union markets and more to North Asia."