- POSTED: 17 Sep 2013 19:19
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Mooncake sales in China are down between 30 and 60 per cent due to the Chinese government's ban against buying the seasonal delicacy using public funds.
BEIJING: The Chinese government's austerity drive has led to waning mooncake sales in China.
In response to a ban against buying mooncakes using public funds, sales of the seasonal delicacy are down between 30 and 60 per cent.
Extravagant mooncakes are becoming a rare sight in China and the offerings this year are decidedly more low-key after the round pastry was singled out in Beijing's latest austerity drive.
With high-end gift sets costing more than US$80 seeing fewer takers, mooncake suppliers are switching to focus on private companies and individuals with more affordable packaging.
Beijing Dao Xiang Cun’s sales manager Li Xingcun said: "We have increased the percentage of low end gift boxes. The proportion of gift sets below 200 yuan (US$32) has been raised from 60 per cent last year to 70 per cent this year."
Sofitel Wanda Beijing’s F&B director Marc Grebot said: "Corporate customers increased about 50 per cent compared to what we did last year. We are more proactive this year and we went to the companies before others."
At Grand Millennium Beijing, mooncake sales have dropped nearly two-thirds this year compared to last year.
In particular, orders from government organisations are sharply down.
The hotel’s F&B director David Cui said: "In the past, government organisations would order thousands of boxes each. This year, they have scaled down and most order less than a hundred boxes."
Industry watchers expect the market to shrink even further moving forward.
Mr Cui said: "I feel the market will be even worse. Next year, we intend to further cut our budget for moon cakes by half. Many suppliers of moon cake boxes and ingredients are switching jobs. There will not be as much demand next year."
The mooncake is widely eaten among the Chinese community during the mid-autumn festival.
Some 280 thousand tons of mooncakes worth US$2.6 billion were sold in China alone last year.
Legend has it that secret messages were hidden inside the paste of the mooncake to spread revolutionary messages in ancient China.
In modern times, the idea has been adapted to hide luxury gifts such as car keys, diamond rings or even cash -- stoking concern that they are given in exchange for favours or other corrupt purposes.
But in China, there are always ways to get around the ban.
The gifting market has become more varied this year, with businesses selling other seasonal gift items including wine, hampers and tea.