The Ministry for Primary Industries is spending $11 million on a seven-year programme to enhance the country's marbled beef.
Approved funding for the programme was announced today by Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Wayne McNee.
"The programme aims to put New Zealand marbled beef 'centre of the plate' in much the same way as New Zealand lamb is in key international markets," he said.
"We want foodies to actively seek out New Zealand marbled beef because it consistently delivers on taste and tenderness and embodies consumer beliefs and lifestyles."
Hawkes Bay companies Brownrigg Agriculture and Firstlight Foods would run the programme, which would cost $11m over seven years.
The programme was worth $23.7m, Mr McNee said.
Marbling, the distribution of fat through meat, was the main determinant of quality in table beef in international markets such as Japan, China and the United States, he said.
Overseas the high-quality meat was mainly produced from cattle housed in pens, but the New Zealand programme would combine high-marbling cattle genetics with pastoral agriculture.
Primary Industries Minister David Carter said this was a major investment partnership for New Zealand's export beef sector.
The Government's Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) would fund half of the programme, he said.
"The Government's total investment so far of more than quarter of a billion dollars in PGP programmes demonstrates its firm commitment to boosting economic growth through primary sector research and innovation," Mr Carter said.
"All New Zealanders stand to gain from the partnership announced today because alongside our internationally prized lamb, our beef sector is pivotal to the success of our economy."
Today's announcement lifted the total spend by PGP to almost $600m.
Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills explained that marbled meat came from wagyu beef.
"Wagyu meat is known around the world as very good marbling, it's the high-end meat."
One of the biggest Wagyu herds in the world was in Hawkes Bay where the programme would run from, Mr Wills said.
Where most beef would have a layer of fat around the edge, marbled beef would have the fat evenly distributed throughout it.
"With meat you've got to have a bit of fat for it to cook well and to give the tenderness."
"Because of that marbling, and that even distribution of fat, it cooks very, very well," he said.