Decline in Demand for Mooncakes Despite Ample Variety

This year, moon cakes have failed to draw in the expected crowds despite the myriad of designs and flavors available. Sales have been notably low.

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With only one day remaining before the Mid-Autumn Festival on September 29th, mooncake sales in the market are still quite low. In previous years, demand for mooncakes typically increased during this time as people purchased them for personal consumption and as gifts for loved ones.

Tran Khanh Duong, a mooncake vendor in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung district, stated that most shops open their counters at least a month before Full Moon Day, but sales have been slow. He attributed this to the lingering effects of Covid-19, which has resulted in fewer big orders from companies and people being hesitant to spend. Additionally, market purchases have not yet rebounded as expected. On average, customers are only buying 1-2 boxes of traditional mooncakes as gifts for themselves or their loved ones.

Hotels introduce new mooncake collections. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times

Some individuals prefer homemade mooncakes over mass-produced ones due to their lower cost and superior taste. However, there are also high-end handmade mooncakes with fancy packaging available in the market. These mooncakes typically cost around VND30,000 – 60,000 /piece (US$1.3-2.6).

Consumers are advised to exercise caution when purchasing handmade mooncakes, especially those sold online. Some bakeries may not be able to provide safety and origin documents for their mooncakes upon request.

The quality of homemade mooncakes is uncertain and not guaranteed by a reputable company. Therefore, consumers should choose a reputable place to buy mooncakes to avoid purchasing poor-quality cakes and the risk of food poisoning.

Luxury mooncakes

Hotels in Hanoi are releasing various mooncake collections with eye-catching designs and packaging.

Muong Thanh Hospitality’s mooncake collection is inspired by the culture of the Tay ethnic minority.

Muong Thanh Hospitality is preserving and honoring Vietnamese traditional values by presenting mooncake packaging inspired by the gathering of poets in ancient times to enjoy the moonlight and recite poems. Their unique traditional folk festival-themed collection, called Nang Hai Festival (The Moon Lady), represents a long-standing traditional festival of the Tay ethnic group in Cao Bang Province, which has been recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Mooncake Box depicts The Moon Lady in traditional Tay dress, holding the dan tinh (traditional Tay gourd lute) and playing songs under the moonlight.

Mooncake collection of Lotte Hanoi Hotel.

Lotte Hotel Hanoi offers a variety of mooncake collections, including The Moonlight, The Starlight, The New Moon, The Full Moon, The Eclipse, and The Miracles. The collections come in boxes with four or six cakes and also include a bottle of wine.

Pan Pacific Hanoi Hotel continues its 25-year mooncake legacy with the 2023 Mooncake Collection. The collection features exquisite packaging and delicious mooncakes, with a design inspired by the West Lake Lotus Pond, a destination rich in heritage. The six enticing flavors in the collection are Black tea with salted yolk, Green beans with salted yolk, Melon with salted yolk, Chocolate with cream cheese, Jambon with salted yolk, and Lotus with salted yolk.

Pan Pacific Hanoi Hotel introduces a mooncake collection inspired by lotus and West Lake.

The Sheraton Hanoi Hotel’s 2023 Mooncake Collection is inspired by the traditional Hang Trong woodblock painting in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, called Carps Gazing at the Mid-Autumn Moon. The collection features a pair of carps chasing the reflection of the full moon on the water’s surface. It offers six baked mooncake flavors: Green tea, lotus seed and dried apricot; raspberry and pumpkin seed; traditional mixed nut mooncake; mung bean, chia seed and salted egg yolk; oolong tea and salted egg yolk; and lotus seed, walnut, and salted egg yolk.

Ensuring food safety

The Hanoi Market Surveillance Department cautions that many bakeries take advantage of the increased demand during the Mid-Autumn Festival to produce or smuggle mooncakes of inferior quality and unknown origin.

Sheraton Hotel’s mooncake collection.

To ensure food safety during the peak mid-autumn season, Chu Xuan Kien, the director of Hanoi’s Market Surveillance Department, states that the department will increase inspections targeting mooncake products, mooncake raw materials, and mooncake packaging to detect poor-quality products promptly.

Inspections will specifically focus on mooncake craft villages in Bac Tu Liem, Hoai Duc, and Thanh Tri districts, as well as hotels and restaurants that produce and sell mooncakes.

The Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade has also implemented a plan to ensure food safety for the city’s Mid-Autumn Festival in 2023.

People buy mooncakes on Thanh Nien Road. Photo: Hoai Nam/The Hanoi Times

Tran Thi Phuong Lan, acting director of the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade, emphasizes that the inspection will target businesses and importers of mooncakes and mooncake ingredients. Online trading of mooncakes will also be subject to inspection for compliance with e-commerce regulations.

The Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade has urged districts and cities to take firm action against food and mooncake businesses that do not set up stalls in designated locations, fail to ensure food safety, or violate social security.

Tran Thi Phuong Lan advises people to be aware of and comply with regulations regarding food hygiene and safety when producing and trading essential foods for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Additionally, she encourages consumers to carefully choose confectionery and food products with clear origins.