Sales of tra­di­tional gift in wan­ing phase

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­

There’s a fa­mous Chi­nese poem that’s widely quoted dur­ing the Mid-Au­tumn Fes­ti­val. Loosely trans­lated, it says that hu­mans ex­pe­ri­ence sor­row and joy, meet and de­part, as the moon waxes and wanes, on days gloomy or shiny.

But for moon­cake bak­ers and sell­ers, the fore­cast for this year’s fes­ti­val, fall­ing on Sept 19, is gloomy. Sales of the sta­ple snack, en­joyed since an­cient times, are on the wane.

Al­though the hol­i­day is still more than two weeks away, sales are drop­ping at bak­eries, restau­rants and five-star ho­tels that used to make a wind­fall from sell­ing the tra­di­tional hol­i­day gift.

A sales­man at a five- star ho­tel in Shang­hai, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, told the Shang­hai Evening Post that with the “eight rules”, the good times are over.

The “eight rules”, im­ple­mented by the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee at the end of last year, em­pha­size aus­ter­ity and the drive for a cleaner govern­ment.

To em­pha­size the cen­tral govern­ment’s ef­fort to com­bat cor­rup­tion and ex­trav­a­gance, on Aug 22, the CPC’s dis­ci­plinary au­thor­ity is­sued a no­tice strictly pro­hibit­ing the use of govern­ment funds to buy moon­cake gifts dur­ing the Mid-Au­tumn Fes­ti­val and the forth­com­ing National Day hol­i­day, which runs from Oct 1 to 7.

On Wed­nes­day, Feng Enyuan, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China Cui­sine As­so­ci­a­tion, said at a news con­fer­ence held by the Min­istry of Com­merce that moon­cake sales are mainly tar­geted at the mass mar­ket, and sim­ply packed, or even “naked moon­cakes”, should be­come the norm.

“It’s a heavy blow,” said Feng Fusheng, deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the Shang­hai Con­fec­tionary In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Feng, at least 40 per­cent of moon­cake sales were for­merly ac­counted for by bulk pur­chases by com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions as gifts for clients.

Al­though it is hard to say how much of the 40 per­cent will “dis­ap­pear”, Feng es­ti­mated that moon­cake sales are al­ready down 20 per­cent.

Sales at five-star ho­tels may be down even more. A man­ager of a moon­cake fac­tory in Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince, told the lo­cal news­pa­per, Mod­ern Ex­press, that or­ders from fives­tar ho­tels are down 30 per­cent year-on-year.

In Shang­hai, some five-star ho­tels have sold less than 30 per­cent of their moon­cake coupons, even though th­ese haughty es­tab­lish­ments are of­fer­ing dis­counts of up to 40 per­cent, the Shang­hai Evening Post re­ported.

The China As­so­ci­a­tion of Bak­ery and Con­fec­tionery In­dus­try es­ti­mates that 280,000 tons of moon­cakes will be baked this year, and sales are likely to ex­ceed 16 bil­lion yuan ($2.6 bil­lion).

But be­cause of higher ma­te­rial and la­bor costs, which the as­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates are up 10 per­cent, and the cen­tral govern­ment’s poli­cies, sales are likely to show a 20 per­cent de­cline.


A su­per­mar­ket counter of­fers a va­ri­ety of moon­cakes in Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince. It is es­ti­mated that 280,000 tons of moon­cakes will be baked this year.

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