The move follows Sainsbury's admission last month that it was considering opening stores in the Far East.
Sainsbury's refused to comment on Hodgson's new role but a spokesman said: "We do not see international expansion as part of our short-term plans, but given the extraordinary growth in China, we think it wise to assess if there will be an opportunity for us in the future.
"We already have two sourcing offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong with more than 100 colleagues based there and we will also be looking to open further sourcing offices as we accelerate the growth of our business."
A Sainsbury's supplier described Hodgson as "a pretty good guy to deal with". "I can see why he has been promoted," he said. "He has not really told us what exactly he'll be doing in China but said it was an exciting opportunity."
Hodgson has held several roles at Sainsbury's, including dairy manager and poultry buyer. Melanie Sachdeva will replace him as category manager for canned and packaged grocery on 17 August. She is currently category manager for meal solutions.
Hodgson's posting overseas follows last month's board restructure in which chief financial officer Darren Shapland was promoted to the new role of group development director and Mike Coupe was promoted from trading director to group commercial director.