Coronavirus has created demand for a Hawke's Bay grower's organic apples in China as consumers stay away from their local wholesalers and wet markets.
As a result of the local hiatus, Australasia's largest organic apple producer, Bostock New Zealand, has just air freighted its largest ever air shipment of organic apples to China.
Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says they have sent Posy organic apples, which are a new sweet variety especially bred for the Asia market and are one of New Zealand's first available apples of the season.
• Hail-lashed Bay orchards could lose two-thirds of crops
• 'Heaviest hail in 20 years': Orchard owners fear for Hawke's Bay stonefruit after storm
• Premium - Major Hawke's Bay fruit producer Sunfruit in voluntary administration
• Hail takes heavy toll on H Bay orchards
"The situation in China is devastating and it's meant that Chinese consumers aren't going out to the wet market or wholesale markets to buy their fruit as they avoid crowded public places," he said.
"They are buying it from trusted retailers where hygiene is better assured and many of these trusted retailers are our customers.
"There has also been a significant increase in online sales for fresh produce as consumers look to have groceries delivered to their homes so they don't have to step outside."
Bostock International Trader Jane Maclean says when a crisis like this happens in China, more consumers turn to organics as they trust it more and believe it's safer for them and their families.
"New Zealand is a trusted source in a situation which is unfolding like this. Organics create another layer of trust for the Chinese consumer," she said.
"Logistically it's becoming difficult to buy fresh produce in China as the wholesale markets have shut down.
The day Napier hit 40C: Rail lines buckled, and people 'gasped for breath'
Huge turnout at rescue helicopter open day in Hawke's Bay
12 year-old raises gang concerns while Nash defends police
"Retail is still strong, and in fact more retailers are reporting increased sales as a result of the current situation, but they need to source their produce from somewhere and New Zealand is an attractive option for the high-end retailers."
The airfreight Posy apples will be the first New Zealand apples in the China market.
Both Mr Apple and Bostock New Zealand hold the exclusive rights to grow and market Posy apples and Bostock New Zealand is the only organic producer in the world.
Posy apples have been bred with very high brix (sucrose by per cent mass) and high colour for the Asian markets.
"Chinese consumers love very sweet, high-colour apples which have a beautiful appearance," Maclean said.
Bostock New Zealand air freighted two pallets of Posy apples last season, but this season it has several pallets arriving by air and many more containers will follow by sea.
This is the second year Bostock New Zealand has had significant volumes of Posy apples to export.
"We are also adding value by creating a brand for this apple and supporting it with a lot of marketing material for our customers. This came off the back of a very successful season in China last year," Maclean said.
The China market is growing for Bostock New Zealand and awareness of the organic category is developing.
Bostock says new, exciting varieties are appealing in Asia and are helping grow the market there.
"Developing exclusive, high-quality apple varieties has been a big focus for Bostock New Zealand over recent years," he said.
"Our Asian customers are really excited about the oncoming new varieties we have."