Comvita, New Zealand's biggest mānuka honey maker and exporter, earned itself a savage selldown on the sharemarket after reporting a first-half loss.

The company rode the crest of a wave in 2014 and 2015, buoyed up by enthusiasm for mānuka honey and strong demand for it in China, through the unofficial grey market, or "daigou" trade.

The share price peaked at more than $12 in 2016, when Comvita was valued at more than $580 million, but quickly began to fall when it hit regulatory problems in the daigou markets the following year.

Then bad weather delivered two poor seasons. The

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