China: to promote simply-packaged moon cakes

Beijing / CN. (gov) China´s moon cake producers are hoping to revive the spirit of China´s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival by packaging their products in simple, environment-friendly, recycled paper. More than 40 stores have joined a municipal government campaign to sell moon cakes in simple packaging. Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 25 this year.

The moon cakes would be wrapped in recycled paper and packaged in paper containers, says Liu Jian, a marketing official with Beijing municipal bureau of commerce. Leading producers like Holiland, Guixiangcun and Weiduomei are involved in the campaign.

«Customers can still buy moon cakes wrapped in expensive packages as gifts. We do not expect they want to change that right away. The recycled paper was introduced to promote the notion of environmental protection among consumers», Liu says. However he could not specify the proportion of moon cakes to be wrapped in recycled paper.

The simply-packaged moon cakes – around 5.000 boxes per involved company – will be sold for 90 to 180 CNY (8,70 to 17,40 Euro) per box, depending on the quantity and quality, an average ten percent lower than normal (Beijing) prices.

«As China´s prices have soared recently, the costs of raw materials to produce moon cakes has increased by ten to twelve percent», says Liu. Keeping the prices low would help stabilize commodity prices during the festival. China´s consumer price index, a key inflation indicator, rose by 3,5 percent in the first seven months, hitting 5,6 percent in July. The rise has been mainly driven by food price hikes, which soared by 8,6 percent from January to July and contributed to 80 percent of the overall inflation, according to earlier report.

Liu hopes the packaging drive would help spread the concepts of frugality, rationality and health. «Luxurious packages not only distort the meaning of moon cakes, but are unnecessarily wasteful». Mid-Autumn Festival, traditionally a time of family reunions, was designated an official festival in the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). On the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, family members return home and together eat moon cakes and watch the full moon.

In the past decade, moon cakes – traditionally stuffed with sweet bean paste, egg yolks and nuts – have been packaged in extremely expensive and elaborate boxes made of wood, silk or even gold. In the last two years, the authorities have begun to discourage extravagance and waste in the sales of moon cakes.