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September 12, 2013

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Few takers for pricey mooncakes

EXPENSIVE mooncakes with lavish extras failed to win over customers ahead of this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

A central government ban on institutional spending also contributed to the poor sales.

Traditionally, mooncakes are made from red beans and lotus seed paste. But in recent years, the festival delicacy served as “gifts” to win favors from officials, or came in handy to build business connections or bribe government officials.

They contained luxury freebies, like shark fins and abalones, sometimes with a 18-karat gold leaf attached on the top. High-end tea leaves and wine were also added to the gift sets, giving it a total value of over 1,000 yuan (US$163).

Last week, the Communist Party of China disciplinary watchdog called for restraints on giving and accepting gifts or holding banquets with public funds during festivals.

The mooncake producers felt the chill.

“The mooncakes sales this year is expected to be hit by 10 to 20 percent,” said Feng Fusheng, vice general secretary of the Shanghai Confectionery Industry Association, which includes 36 major mooncake producers in the city.

Chen Yaoliang, general manager of Xinya Cantonese Restaurant, an 87-year-old establishment on Nanjing Road, expects a 10 percent drop in sales. “Government offices almost disappeared from our customer list this year,” he said.

It was believed that companies and government offices were a major player in the purchase of expensive gift sets while individual customers favored mooncakes sold in bulk, priced between 5 to 12 yuan each.



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