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January 20, 2014

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Companies lose the taste for New Year hampers

PRICES for hampers of pre-prepared dishes for the traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve family dinner have fallen 20 percent as corporate and government customers cut back on extravagances.

Many top hotels and restaurants have reduced production or decided not to offer the boxes of goodies which organizations in the past often gave as New Year gifts to employees.

The hampers contain everything needed for a Chinese New Year’s Eve family dinner — known as nianyefan — including soup, fish and meat dishes, vegetables and sauces.

As the ingredients are already cleaned and cut and only require cooking, they are popular with busy families for this important gathering, which falls on January 30 this year.

A government campaign against extravagance and waste has hit the corporate market and seen hotels and restaurants focus on individuals.

About 20 percent of restaurants in the city are estimated to have given up on nianyefan hampers altogether this year, said Jin Peihua, deputy secretary of the Shanghai Restaurants Association.

Others, meanwhile, are focusing on less expensive options.

Park Hotel on Nanjing Road replaced a 1,200 yuan (US$193) package with one for 888 yuan to attract families, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

The cheapest hamper at the local Xinhualou chain is 528 yuan, while 538 yuan buys one from the Xinya Cantonese restaurant chain.

The most popular options among locals are priced at between 300 to 500 yuan, according to the association.

One consolation for hotels and restaurants offering nianyefan hampers is that, unusually, this year Chinese New Year’s Eve is not a holiday, meaning that families who have spent the day working may be more keen to go for the pre-prepared dinner option.



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