Traditional moon cakes — pastries with a sugary coating and filled with an oily paste — have long been the delicacy of choice in the run-up to the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, but it would seem these traditional pastries are losing ground to newer versions of the treat.
Department store operators recently said that new varieties of moon cakes and pastries are becoming best-selling gifts.
According to distributors, desserts and pastries priced at about NT$500 are expected to outsell traditional baked moon cakes to become the most trendy holiday gift for this year’s Moon Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
Despite the increasing costs of raw ingredients, alongside the country’s economic downturn, the holiday gifts have not yet seen significant price hikes, said the firms which operate Q Square, Global Mall, Dayeh Takashimaya and Far Eastern Department Store Co.
The trend follows last year’s sales patterns, according to distribution statistics from President Transnet Corp — the home delivery arm of the Uni-President Group — which show the firm’s most widely distributed products are mainly “non-traditional moon cakes,” including ice-cream mooncakes and pineapple cakes.
Explaining the shift in customer preferences, assistant manager at Far Eastern public relations, Meo Cheng (鄭嘉蕙), said that while the majority of department stores would continue to stock traditional moon cakes in the lead-up to the annual festival, the traditional version of the treat would probably account for less than 30 percent of the holiday gift market.
Meanwhile, non-traditional moon cakes, such as egg-yolk pastries and pineapple cakes, could net as much as 80 percent of the market, Cheng said.
“However, gift boxes with packets of tea, liquor, fresh fruit and health-care foods such as birds’ nest take only a limited proportion of the market share during the Mid-Autumn Festival, as these products tend to be more expensive,” Cheng said.
In addition to a variety of non-traditional pastries, exquisite desserts are also gaining in popularity.
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store assistant manager Fang Ching-lun (房菁崙) said that as part of its effort to breathe new life into the moon-cake market — which she said had become nearly saturated — the store was turning its attention to distributing more high-end desserts for quality-minded customers.
Such products include the popular Koshihikari rice cake manufactured by the Greater Taichung-based Rice Bakery, and dainty German-style handmade cheesecakes manufactured by the Greater Kaohsiung-based La Boutique de Pan.
Following the trend, the Pacific Sogo Department Store’s Zhong-xiao Branch also offers chocolate-flavored Baumkuchen — a round multi-layered cake — by the Japan-based bakery Monteur for the annual festival of reunion, as its round shape symbolizes family unity, completeness and happiness in Taiwanese culture.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern Department Store Co is trying to appeal to customers with an array of French-style desserts, including the renowned confectionery macaron by the L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, a three-star Michelin restaurant chain.