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Yesterday, group category manager Grant Howie described it as a ''significant move'' into the high-end retail category for the company, which, until now, had been a commodity product exporter into China.
The retail range would be sold online through distribution and marketing partner NZFocus, which sells a stable of New Zealand-made branded products into China. It was envisaged the range would eventually be sold into high-end supermarkets in Shanghai.
China was Silver Fern Farms' largest market by volume and value off the back of commodity exports of low-mid range lamb and beef cuts. It was the first time a premium consumer branded range would be exported, Mr Howie said.
''This move will diversify our product range into China, as well as diversifying our channel to market. It is the first time we have put our retail products into China, so selling online direct makes sense as we can get meaningful feedback from consumers on what they want from our products,'' he said.
The online sales would be supported by promotions on a popular television shopping channel, online promotions and in-store cooking demonstrations.
Online shoppers in China were a small but developing segment of the market and, with the size of China, it had potential for ''considerable scale'' for the company, Mr Howie said.
Silver Fern Farms was the only meat range being sold through NZFocus, which was established by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in 2006 Originally designed to showcase imported food and beverages from New Zealand in Hong Kong's main retail district, the brand had since been commercialised and expanded with offices now in Auckland, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai.