Kiwifruit marketer Zespri says it is continuing to supply into China as normal with no further Covid positive tests on its fruit after a recent scare.
Chief executive Dan Mathieson said that event during routine testing of imported fruit by Chinese officials remained the only positive test on Zespri-branded fruit.
The New Zealand grower-owned marketer expected some short-term market impact in China but was encouraged by the response from Chinese consumers, he said.
China is the $3 billion global exporter's biggest market along with Japan. The greater China market returned $914m in FY21 for both New Zealand-grown and offshore-grown Zespri branded fruit.
"We continue to work constructively with authorities following the test result. This remains the only positive test on our kiwifruit, with all subsequent and previous Covid-19 tests proving negative," Mathieson said.
"We are continuing to supply our fruit into China as normal. All shipments into China have been processed in accordance with standard protocols, including testing for Covid-19 and disinfecting to provide additional certainty. This is the same process all previous imports to China have followed.
"Our team in China is also working hard with our partners to ensure that trust is maintained, that our industry's robust health and food safety processes are understood and that any impact on sales is minimised."
On Friday Zespri said it had activated its emergency management plans after a sample of its fruit tested positive for Covid-19 in routine testing by Chinese officials.
The company said it had recently learned that China's Market Supervision Authority and Centre for Disease Control in Yaohai District, Hefei City, Anhui Province, conducted routine Covid-19 testing of fruit in the wholesale market and "a sample of our kiwifruit tested positive".
"We are taking this matter extremely seriously, immediately launching our emergency management plans and co-operating with the relevant government agencies to trace the product shipment," Zespri said on Friday.
"The affected fruit from the Bay of Plenty was packed in May before being shipped from Tauranga on 16 August. There has been no reported community transmission in the region," the company said.
The fruit had been tested for Covid-19 upon arrival in China by China Customs and Zespri, as well as being disinfected, as per standard China Customs protocols.
"Since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, we have worked strictly in accordance with the requirements of the relevant national regulatory authorities and have co-operated with all the epidemic prevention and eradication work programmes for imported fruit and market distribution, to ensure that only the freshest, safest, high-quality Zespri kiwifruit reaches our consumers."
The Herald understands the sample of Zespri fruit was small.
The testing was part of routine screening of imported fruit.
Herald sources said Chinese regulators conducted a significant amount of testing of fruit, people and premises in relation to the customs batch - all returned negative.
Hefei City has had Covid cases in the past two months, sources said.
Zespri's local distributor also handles fruit from Vietnam and Thailand which have had Covid testing problems in the past, the Herald was told.