Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shanghai Mooncakes

Look out for more egg, fruit, ice-cream, mushroom and chocolate mooncakes this year as people’s mooncake budgets tighten for Mid-autumn festival.

It's like kissing your 90-year-old grandmother on the lips, or welcoming your boss back from holiday. You know you have to, but you'd really rather not.

The giving of mooncakes during Mid-autumn Festival mooncake is one of those traditions that has become part of national protocol, despite revolving around a mouth-drying, insipid, and generally unpopular food item.

And now, believe it or not, they're getting more expensive.

That's like saying: "Come to the Expo, now with even longer queues!"

To be fair, we only have ourselves to blame. With Mid-autumn Festival only two weeks away, mooncakes are in high demand. And according to Shanghai Food Association officials, retail prices are up anywhere from five to 20 percent.

The price hikes are mainly attributed to the rising cost of ingredients.

A staff member at the Xinhualou Co, a major Shanghai mooncake producer, told Shanghai Daily that a box of eight of its mooncakes now costs RMB 68 compared to RMB 60 last year.

The more palatable flavors are particularly affected. Ingredients that are seeing as much as a 25 percent price hike due to terrible weather last year in many of China’s agricultural areas include lotus seeds, beans and walnuts.

To help consumers cope, many mooncake makers are substituting lighter (and cheaper) ingredients like fruit, ice-cream, mushrooms and chocolate, for traditional ones.

Hopefully not all in one Shanghai mooncake. But you never know.


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