The bombardment of southern Lebanon and renewed hostilities in Gaza have dominated the national media for months and fuelled rising fears about instability in the Middle East. Yet for the Israeli companies that produce and import food and drink to the UK, it is very much a story of triumph in the face of adversity.

At one stage there were fears full-scale fighting in Gaza would make it impossible to market fresh produce such as Palestinian strawberries. But Israeli exporter Agrexco says the season is progressing well, with peaks this week of 15 tonnes a day. "We were lucky the violence went down abruptly," says Agrexco strawberry manager Assaf Adar. "Growers can get into the fields and take crops to the freight terminal for export."

This has not affected suppliers of strawberries or other produce to UK multiples, as they deal exclusively with Israeli growers under the Carmel brand. Retail programmes have been mostly untouched, claim exporters.

That hasn't prevented damage to agricultural infrastructure hitting an estimated £52m, according to Israeli government figures. A £48m package of support was agreed to help the rebuilding process, but inevitably some farms gave up production.

Military operations in the north have had even less impact on the business of processing and shipping food out of Israel. Despite the Katyusha rockets that rained down on the north of the country and the movement of thousands of troops into southern Lebanon, there was little crop damage. "The only major products grown in the north are plums and mangoes and yes, we are getting less, but we are getting enough," said Agrexco's UK manager Amos Orr back in July.

Plums and mangoes recovered, but the lychee crop was pegged back 15-20% in volume terms, he added. Apples were also affected, but the 120,000 tonne crop is exclusively for domestic consumption.

The story is similar for

Mehadrin Tnuport Export, Israel's second-largest exporter of fresh produce. A spokesman says the conflict had made it harder to get table grapes grown in the north to the ports.

Haifa was regularly closed and rockets forced trucks to travel further south to the port of Ashdod.

But it has still been a good grape year, insists Yaron Szilas, UK account manager for Mehadrin Tnuport. "Last year we did 1,500 tonnes to the UK and we expect to at least double that this year."

The campaign to get British consumers to vote with their wallets has also had limited impact. Though marches against Israel's foreign policy attracted some support, attempts to organise boycotts have met with a lukewarm response.

Sales of Israeli produce such as fresh herbs did not fall during the summer and autumn, according to supermarkets. In fact, shoppers are buying more food and drink from Israel than ever before.

Nowhere is that more true than in the fresh produce aisle where sales figures from the top three importers - Agrexco, Mehadrin Tnuport Export and Yarden - are all up on last year. Agrexco says it sold about £113m of produce into the UK last year, up from £76m in 2003. And Mehadrin Tnuport has hit £25m from a standing start nine years ago.

"None of the retailers are reducing quantities," says Szilas. "As Israelis, we are all worried about our image in the world and we don't like to be boycotted. But I do not see a big impact on sales - the opposite ­in fact."

This hasn't stopped some groups, such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, claiming a victory in its Boycott Israeli Goods campaign.

"The campaign is having an effect. For instance, Tesco announced it was axing a line of Israeli peppers," says boycott organiser Chris Osmond.

Tesco, however, insists there was no delisting and at the time, in June, Israeli peppers were not even in season. "We continue to source a small amount of fruit and veg from Israel," says a spokesman.

"Produce is clearly marked so it's down to customers to make their own minds up." n