Who will save the mooncakes?

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Author | Tang Yahua Editor | Mu Feng

Source: Deep Burn

The Mid-Autumn Festival is coming, no matter how the festival is, the moon cakes must be in place first. Mooncakes are also the first choice for gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Many people remember the moon cakes, which were placed on the table during the Mid-Autumn Festival when the moon was full, and the moon cakes complemented the full moon.

I don’t know since when, moon cakes have become colorful, hidden in exaggerated and extravagant packaging boxes, a box of six or eight, snowy moon cakes, fruit moon cakes, fluffy yellow hearts, ice cream chocolates… all kinds, but No matter what, it still tastes greasy and greasy.

And most young people do not like to eat such moon cakes. Too sweet, afraid of getting fat, the taste is not in line with my liking, there is a lack of waiting and expectation for a whole year, and the taste of my parents is missing. However, due to the Mid-Autumn Festival atmosphere and the demand for holiday gifts, most people have to buy some moon cakes.

In fact, over the years, moon cakes have been a business with a gross profit margin of up to 60%, and manufacturers are also motivated to rack their brains to innovate and upgrade, so that the flavors of moon cakes on the market have changed from double yellow lotus paste and jujube bean paste to matcha, coconut milk and coffee. . But still, it did not enter the hearts of young people.

Coupled with the long past, the packaging is more than the form, and the selling price is “astronomical”. This year, the policy has taken action, and the noisy mooncake market has returned to calm. The moon cake itself should also return to its essence. By subdividing tastes, crowds, and scenes, and extending the life cycle, mooncakes can be turned into snacks and desserts.

Only now, it only exists as a holiday symbol.

Reasons not to eat moon cakes:

Unpalatable, high in calories, no taste in memory

“In my understanding, the moon cakes are only the orthodox ones with double yellow lotus seed paste, the ones with oily egg yolks when everything is open”, “The creamy yellow moon cakes with flowing heart, I still want to eat them”, “Fresh meat, cloud legs moon cakes YYDS”, “Moon cakes have to be of Wuren”…On social platforms, netizens have different preferences for moon cakes. Indeed, people from different regions have different preferences for moon cakes.

In the memory of post-95 Yueyue, moon cakes are made of five kernels. I watched my mother make moon cakes every Mid-Autumn Festival since I was a child. I made stuffing with sugar, green and red silk, raisins and various dried fruits, and pressed it with a wooden mold. , Knock it upside down, and a flower-shaped mooncake is ready. This process alone is attractive enough, and even more children love sweet things, and the memory is full of beauty.

“I don’t know why many people hate five-nut moon cakes, but I think moon cakes should look like five-ren moon cakes. Later, the fancy moon cakes that became popular are like cakes and pastries, but they are not like moon cakes.”

But even with the blessing of childhood filters, Yueyue still doesn’t eat moon cakes much when she grows up. “I made moon cakes by myself. I know that the dough alone has a lot of sugar and oil. As a weight loss person, I feel that my calories will burst after eating moon cakes. Maybe a few days of fitness will be wasted.”

Before the Mid-Autumn Festival this year, Yueyue was attracted by several moon cakes with different colors and tastes, and she mustered up the courage to give the Mid-Autumn Festival a little atmosphere, but she was disappointed. “I first ate a custard-yellow mooncake, which tasted sweet and sticky, so I finally had to bite the bullet. As a serious coffee lover, I picked up another coffee-flavored one, took a bite, and it was bitter and bitter. It’s astringent, and the liquid in the middle still tastes like traditional Chinese medicine. Later, I tasted a coconut milk-flavored one. The filling was gray, and I didn’t feel any coconut flavor after eating it all.”

Yueyue felt that she was deeply “deceived”. She had a good-looking appearance and a very attractive taste, but she was angry and regretful after eating it. In her opinion, if she is craving for cake occasionally when she is losing weight, eating one piece will at least satisfy her cravings. Eating this type of moon cake has a feeling of being cheated. It is so high in calories and unpalatable.

The post-90s Yuanqing also grew up eating Wuren mooncakes. When they were young, their parents often queued up until late at night with materials to make and store hundreds of mooncakes. In the next six months or so, moon cakes have become the emergency food at home, eaten as a snack, or dealt with when it is too late to cook.

“Wuren moon cakes will become very hard after a while, and the oil used for making moon cakes will also start to taste bad after a period of time,” so much so that Yuanqing felt a headache when he saw Wuren moon cakes in the following years, and he did not add any more. mouth desire. Over the years, there have been many bells and whistles, and they look very tempting. However, if you don’t eat it, you will regret it. Looking back, she found that Wu Ren was relatively delicious, but because it was too sweet and greasy, Yuan Qing was limited to eating a small piece or two every year during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Yun Nian from Jiangsu grew up eating Su-style mooncakes. She likes fresh meat the most. “But this kind of cake is baked on the spot. When I was a child, my mother would queue up to buy it, and I would bring it to eat with my grandmother on the Mid-Autumn Festival.” In her opinion, moon cakes still have to be eaten with family members. The taste is one aspect, and the atmosphere and mood of eating are also very important. “Other people’s homes use moon cakes with tea leaves. My grandmother used the wine she brewed. When I was a child, I was allowed to take a sip. It’s sweet.”

After working abroad for many years, she no longer eats moon cakes. On the one hand, she is afraid of getting fat, and sugar and fat are indispensable in it, and she can’t finish a box by herself. On the other hand, seeing that the mooncakes have less and less classic appearance and taste, more and more colors, more and more flavors and flavors, and the family is not around, there is no expectation and sense of ritual to eat mooncakes. “The taste doesn’t attract me, the classics are eternal, and eating mooncakes is eating the taste and memories of childhood.”

In recent years, Yun Nian’s only consumption of moon cakes every year is to bring a moon cake to his parents when he buys a Mid-Autumn Festival gift, which is considered a little thought. But now the new brand will add some fancy cups and dishes to the mooncake gift box. The focus is no longer on mooncakes, and the more they sell, the more expensive they are. “Giving it to parents, they all hate it, and they are embarrassed to give it to relatives.”

The favorite flavor is too high in calories, and the novel flavor cannot be accepted. Young people seem to have little enthusiasm for moon cakes.

Who will save the mooncakes?

In fact, for many years, merchants have been fighting the moon cake defense battle, but in the early years, most of them were used in packaging and mixing.

According to data from Tianyancha, as of September 2022, there are more than 12,000 moon cake-related patents in my country, including more than 9,400 design patents, more than 1,600 invention patents and more than 1,200 utility model patents. More than 2000 articles have been published.

Over the past few years, “high-priced” mooncakes have been rampant. In order to meet the needs of gift-giving, merchants add abalone, bird’s nest and other ingredients to moon cakes, mix moon cakes with high-end tea, high-end tobacco and alcohol, and use luxury packaging boxes such as mahogany or precious metals to transform moon cakes into thousands of dollars, and the road is getting more and more deviated. .

The moon cake business is very special. There is only demand during the Mid-Autumn Festival in a year, but it has a high profit margin and is the main business of many moon cake merchants.

In the industry, not only traditional brands such as Wufangzhai, Daoxiangcun, Guangzhou Restaurant, Hong Kong Meixin, Xinghualou, and Zhiweiguan also continue to make moon cakes, and three squirrels, Baicaowei, and Laiyifen are also making casual snacks. There are new-style tea brands like Starbucks, HEYTEA, and Nai Xue’s Tea, as well as mooncake products.

Guangzhou Restaurant’s 2021 financial report shows that moon cake series products are the main source of revenue and profit, with a gross profit margin of 56.46%, and the revenue of moon cake series products has reached 1.521 billion yuan, accounting for nearly 40% of the company’s total revenue. Since its listing in 2017, the gross profit margin of Guangzhou Restaurant’s mooncake series products has reached a maximum of 63.22% and a minimum of 56.46%.

Many industry insiders estimate that the average cost of an ordinary mooncake gift box is no more than 70 yuan, but the price is more than a few hundred yuan. Not long ago, the National Development and Reform Commission investigated moon cakes with a price of more than 500 yuan. The results of the survey showed that the production and sales cost of boxed moon cakes over 500 yuan was not much different from the cost of ordinary boxed moon cakes, and the profit was much higher than that of ordinary boxed moon cakes.

Similar to hairy crab coupons, moon cake coupons once became a circulating virtual commodity. A widely circulated practice in the industry is that if a mooncake manufacturer prints a 100 yuan coupon, sells it to a dealer for 65 yuan, and the dealer sells it to consumer A for 80 yuan, and consumer A gives the mooncake coupon. Give it to consumer B, consumer B sells it to the scalper for 40 yuan, and the manufacturer finally buys it from the scalper for 50 yuan. After a circle, the manufacturer did not produce moon cakes, but made a profit of 15 yuan, and the dealer made a difference of 15 yuan. A gave a gift, B made a cash withdrawal of 40 yuan, and the scalper earned 10 yuan from it. Everyone is happy.

On May 24, 2022, the State Administration for Market Regulation and other relevant departments approved the release of the No. 1 Amendment to the National Standard “Restriction of Excessive Packaging Requirements for Food and Cosmetics”, which stipulates the number of packaging layers, packaging void ratio, packaging cost and mixed packaging requirements for moon cakes. new rule. Its contents include that the number of packaging layers for moon cakes should not exceed three layers at most; unnecessary gaps in the packaging box should be reduced; moon cakes should not be mixed with other products; for moon cakes with a sales price of more than 100 yuan, the packaging cost should not account for the proportion of the sales price. More than 15%; packaging materials shall not use precious metals, mahogany and other precious materials. In addition, recently, the National Development and Reform Commission and other relevant departments have focused on the supervision of moon cakes with a price of more than 500 yuan.

The policy took action, and mooncakes took the first step of being “saved”. After a series of actions, the mooncake market this year is relatively orderly, and most mooncakes on the market are priced below 500 yuan.

In recent years, in order to stimulate the taste buds of more people, the innovation of moon cake flavors has adopted the idea of ​​”everything can be mixed and matched”.

There are the most innovations in fillings, among which fruit fillings include durian, apple, banana, dragon fruit, etc., meat fillings include lobster, eagle meat, abalone, etc., and precious food fillings include donkey-hide gelatin, black truffle, shark fin, etc. Tea such as Longjing and Pu’er, as well as wolfberry and ginkgo, have also become the fillings for moon cakes.

In addition to the traditional sugar and oil, mooncakes with snow skins are also very popular. In terms of flavor, mooncakes with common flavors such as matcha, coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate have long been stale. Even the ice cream mooncakes that have become popular in recent years can be said to have little to do with mooncakes.

There are also some moon cake swords that go sideways, and they fight for curiosity. For example, spicy sticky mooncakes, mustard mooncakes, stinky tofu mooncakes, black garlic mooncakes, shredded radish and garlic mooncakes, wormwood mooncakes, hyaluronic acid mooncakes, etc.

In addition to the innovation in taste, mooncakes also shoulder the mission of “health care” through various fillings. For example, some people have applied for a patent for moon cakes for clearing heat and resolving phlegm, and others for a patent for a health-care moon cake containing traditional Chinese medicine, a patent for a peptide moon cake for strengthening the stomach and digestion, and so on.

On the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival this year, Shanxi old vinegar moon cakes were sold again, and Maotai moon cakes were also sold to high prices.

Even so, moon cakes are still difficult to capture the hearts of young people. Many people said that even if they could choose one they liked among the many flavors of mooncakes, they would only try one or two during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Can mooncakes get rid of holiday symbols?

The Mid-Autumn Festival, apart from the Spring Festival, is almost the most important festival for Chinese people. The demand for sending moon cakes to each other between families and friends, and giving gifts for official business, has turned moon cakes from a traditional food into a gift-based commodity, and its status far exceeds that of other festive foods such as zongzi, glutinous rice balls, and Qingtuan.

This also explains why most young people don’t like to eat moon cakes, but they still have to buy some during the Mid-Autumn Festival to decorate the festive atmosphere or give gifts.

Dou Donghui, a psychology professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, analyzed that ritualized behavior has nothing to do with real needs. Eating moon cakes on the Mid-Autumn Festival is a ritualized and patterned behavior, just like eating zongzi during the Dragon Boat Festival, eating dumplings during the New Year, and eating cakes on birthdays. Similarly, the act of giving moon cakes is also a ritualized expression, carrying emotions and appeals other than moon cakes. Such customs and traditions have become part of the cultural DNA of the Chinese people, as well as a collective memory and primitive image. When eating, gifting or receiving mooncakes, one experiences a sense of nostalgia at an individual level, a sense of connection to the past, a sense of identity and belonging in a cultural sense.

As for most people’s dissatisfaction with moon cakes, on the one hand, it was because moon cakes were popular in the early days because in the era of material scarcity, this type of high-sugar oil and easy-to-store food met the needs of most people, but nowadays low-fat and low-sugar foods are generally pursued. The era is obviously a bit outdated. And now there are too many pastries with shorter shelf life, higher freshness and better taste, and moon cakes are not as amazing as expected.

Zhu Danpeng, a senior analyst in the food industry, mentioned that with the growth of the new generation of population and the upgrading of silver-haired people, the current consumer side has certain concerns about traditional products, in terms of appearance management, weight management, health management and nutrition management. Considering that, Chinese people are more resistant to high-sugar, high-fat and high-calorie products. How to meet the current Chinese people’s needs for these four managements is an urgent problem for the entire mooncake industry.

In addition, China has a vast land and abundant resources, and its regional characteristics are remarkable. The large categories of mooncakes include Cantonese, Hong Kong, Suzhou and Yunnan styles. The popular mooncakes in different provinces, cities and counties may be different. Many people’s tastes are deeply integrated into the region. sex. However, most of the moon cakes on the market are mainly Cantonese style, and there are also some Hong Kong style. Obviously, it is difficult to meet the tastes of people across the country with a single category of supply.

Various moon cake gift boxes Source / Screenshot of e-commerce platform Sources of various mooncake gift boxes / screenshots of e-commerce platforms

Yu Jian, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel Greater China, who has long been concerned about FMCG, pointed out that Cantonese-style mooncake itself is one of the traditional genres. Its products are relatively stable, and similar southern mooncake brands have entered the comparison for a long time. In the stage of benign branding, superimposing the economic strength of the Pearl River Delta region itself, the influence of Cantonese-style mooncakes has been brought to the whole country. Like Suzhou-style and Yunnan-style mooncakes, more local brands are operating. If an industry wants to have great development, it must move towards the road of branding, chaining and industrialization.

When talking about moon cakes, many interviewees emphasized that they liked the taste of moon cakes they ate when they were children. Dou Donghui explained from a psychological perspective that people like the tastes of childhood, first because they are preconceived, and the tastes they experience for the first time are often the most impressive. If fresh stimuli just suit the taste, it can activate the reward system of the brain, and the secretion of dopamine will give people a great pleasure experience, and this feeling will also be deeply imprinted in the mind; secondly, because of familiarity, this is a kind of “pure”. The exposure effect”, people tend to like it because it’s familiar.

As for the future, Yu Jian mentioned that for a long time, many people still buy mooncakes on the Mid-Autumn Festival even if they don’t like to eat them. Now many manufacturers have also made certain innovations in taste, shape, and ingredients, such as using oatmeal and chia seeds as raw materials. In the long run, they will continue to develop in the direction of low sugar, low fat, and more diversified tastes. “Traditional flavors are more attractive to middle-aged and elderly people, and new flavors meet the needs of consumers for early adopters. In addition, for segmented groups, such as those who lose weight and the elderly with diabetes, some low-sugar and delicious formulas can be specially developed. “

In addition, he mentioned that in the future, mooncakes will have great potential in snacking and dessert making. Now, the size of many moon cakes is getting smaller and smaller, and at the same time, the taste is increased, and the scenarios of future consumption can also be more diverse, such as afternoon tea, parties or other scenarios.

“If it doesn’t have such a strong festive color and becomes a normalized food, its life cycle will be elongated. But according to the current situation, a box of several hundred yuan will not become a daily consumer product. Mooncakes are packaged, There is room for improvement in terms of price.” Yu Jian said.

At present, moon cakes are more of a holiday symbol, and their emotional and emotional value is far greater than their practical value. In the future, who can “save” mooncakes will depend on who’s innovation can make users pay for it under the pressure of consumption concepts.

*The title picture and the pictures in the text are from pexels. At the request of the interviewee, Yueyue, Yuanqing and Yunnian in the text are pseudonyms.

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