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Mooncakes hit Pingtan market

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2013-09-10

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With Mid-Autumn Festival around the corner, mooncakes are entering the market in Pingtan county, Fujian province.

In contrast with the frenzy of luxury packaging a few years ago, this year's mooncakes are donning a leaner form, as more than 60 percent of them cost 200 to 400 yuan ($32.70 to $65) per box, according to a survey by the Pingtan Times.

"The mediocre price and packaging of most mooncakes is popular among customers," said a saleslady at a local supermarket.

A buyer agreed with the remark, saying the round pastry is more of a token of goodwill as gifts to friends and relatives. It is not necessary to overspend on them.

Mid-Autumn festival, which occurs on the 15th day of August in the Chinese lunar calendar, is a traditional occasion for families to reunite and enjoy mooncakes. It will fall on Sept 19,2013.

For families, buying in bulk is the most common practice, as it lowers price and means more options on flavors.

"The family members favor different tastes. The old and young like sweet mooncakes while the adults prefer spicy and salty ones. Buying in bulk solves the problem because we can just pick a little bit of everything," said Lin.

"What's more. The loose-packed mooncakes are sold at 20 to 30 yuan per kilogram, which means it is only several yuan for one. It is economic," she added.

Although merchants have already geared up for the mooncake sales, the response from customers has stayed relatively tepid as of the first week of September.

Most residents started buying mooncakes about one week before the festival. Most enterprises haven't issued coupons for mooncakes yet, which has contributed to the cold sales, according to some salesmen.

A supermarket worker suggested that those who plan to buy mooncakes just one or two days prior to the festival buy earlier in case their favorite flavors sell out.

The same seeming downturn also hit local restaurants and hotels, where many people choose to kick off "reunion feasts" during the festival, as they all reported lower banquet reservations. The employees explained that there is still time.

China's insurance companies are promoting a new type of insurance especially for Mid-Autumn Festival – insurance for seeing the moon at night. If the applicant fails to see the moon in his or her living place he will be reimbursed for that misfortune.

The campaign is gaining some momentum as more than 4,000 insurance contracts have been bought online within 10 days since August 26.

Mr. Yu, a local Pingtan resident, is among the 4,000 applicants. He said he signed the contract just for fun and didn't even seriously consider reimbursement if he did miss the moon on the festival.