Conspiracy or marketing blunder? The internet is divided on a strange sighting of an alternate flag design appearing on the labeling for New Zealand apples in Shanghai.

Posted on Facebook by user John Miller, the caption reads "spotted recently while in a Shanghai wholesale fruit market. Do the Chinese know something about the outcome of our flag referendum that we don't know yet?"

Conspiracy theories are abounding. One user wrote "Wtf. We haven't even voted. Don't trust our 'democracy'."

Spotted recently while in a Shanghai wholesale fruit market. Do the Chinese know something about the outcome of our flag referendum that we don't know yet?

Posted by John Miller on Saturday, 14 November 2015

Another stated "If this ends up being the nzflag, we'll be really, absolutely sure that $25mill was just wasted in an aesthetic referendum."

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Leslie Edwards-wardle wrote "do the chinese no [sic] more then us ask yourself."

"Makes you wonder if its a done deal ay?" wrote another.

Some are beginning to connect the dots: "There's a shop in Frankton with that flag up as well!"

Other users have posted less outrageous theories positing that a marketing choice was the culprit rather than a global conspiracy in which China has knowledge of our rigged electoral process.

"I betcha some high school kid was told by her dad to get the NZ flag off the web for some new packaging, and she picked whatever she saw first."

One user put a little research into it, "It could be that when one Googles "new zealand flag", that image is the second in ranking, and if a Chinese person wasn't following the flag debate, they could mistake it for NZ's official one."

The post has had over 10,000 shares since 14 November.

The Herald is seeking comment from designer Kyle Lockwood on the use of his flag.

A spokesperson from Rockit Apples stated that the produce photographed is the result of distribution marketing within Asia. He said the patent on tubes and miniature apples was owned by Rockit, and the product displayed is counterfeit.

The apple company responsible was making premature apples rather than miniature ones, he said.