Healthy and nutritious pastries are expected to steal the limelight from traditional mooncake flavors this Mid-Autumn Festival, domestic retailers and bakeries said yesterday.
New ingredients such as ginseng, mushroom and "kan-ten" (
"Traditional stuffing still has support from a loyal clientele, usually those above the age of 40. But for youngsters, we've found that `snow cakes,' with ice cream wrapped in a mochi crust [made of glutinous rice], are catching on," said Antonia Pao (
Traditional mooncakes made of lotus seed or red bean paste with yolk from salted duck eggs contain 700 to 800 calories each, she said.
To ease consumers' concerns about weight gain, Westin Taipei features smaller size mooncakes and a variety of novelty choices, ranging from mango and pineapple to ginseng and a mushroom and lotus-seed paste mixture.
Riding on the health trend, President Starbucks Coffee Corp (
Moreover, its mooncakes use seaweed sugar in place of granulated sugar in the making of the crust, which lowers the number of calories by about two-thirds, Chung said.
"The health concept will only get hotter and hotter. The only difference is the flavors introduced to lure orders," he said.
Domestic mooncake sales are estimated to be worth NT$3 billion (US$91.6 million) a year. The Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, or Oct. 6 this year, is also the biggest sales season for gift boxes.
A survey conducted by President Chain Store Corp (
To snatch a bigger market share, retailers started promotions and taking orders early this month.
But the costs of raw materials, such as flour and pulp, have jumped by an average of 30 percent from last year, according to Chen Ming-fa (陳明發), chief of the e-retail business section of Taiwan FamilyMart Co (全家便利商店).
"To avoid hiking retail prices for moon cakes, retailers are increasing the portions of cookies or tea bags in gift boxes, which also give consumers more selections to choose from," Chen said.
Examples are seen in Taiwan FamilyMart's offering of mooncakes with oolong tea and one of President Starbucks' series that combine cakes with ball-shaped pastries.