Mainland visitors boost sales of mooncakes in Hong Kong

Mainlanders visiting the city snap up the real-deal treats after reports of poor-quality counterfeit products being offered across the border

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2012, 3:40am

Counterfeit mooncakes offered on the mainland are helping to boost sales of the festive treat in Hong Kong.

In days leading up to the Mid-Autumn Festival, Tai Tung Bakery - a local brand with three outlets - was rushing to produce 10,000 mooncakes in the face of keen demand, said owner Tse Ching-yuen.

Counterfeit Wing Wah and Maxim mooncakes, two of the most popular brands, were being offered on mainland websites at prices significantly lower than official ones, but their quality was not up to standard.

To make sure they get the real thing, mainlanders were buying the treats directly in Hong Kong.

"Negative reports about the poor quality of mooncakes across the border prompted mainland tourists to come and buy mooncakes," Tse said. "Local businessmen are also buying them in bulk as presents for mainland clients."

Sales of mooncakes produced at Tai Tung's Yuen Long factory reached 120,000 boxes compared with 100,000 last year, and the bakery was making a last-ditch effort to roll out another 10,000 boxes before the holiday.

Tse said demand was boosted by a growing number of mainland customers, who now amounted to about 10 per cent of total trade.

Another notable change was the type of customer. "The business buyers are very different from family clients who shop in a relaxed way and take time to decide what cakes to buy," he said.

"They come, buy 10 boxes of mooncakes, and leave. Some drive here and then rush home after making their purchases."

Tse said he was pretty sure they were not parallel traders reselling the mooncakes on the mainland for profit, as those traders usually had trolleys and bought in bulk.

Meanwhile, the counterfeit products have resulted in both Wing Wah's and Maxim's Hong Kong sales rising 20 per cent. While the better performance was not directly linked to the fakes, it was becoming increasingly common for tourists to buy mooncakes during their stay in Hong Kong, said Wing Wah spokeswoman Leung Suet-yee.

"They do not have to worry about buying fake products here, as it is a rare to see them in Hong Kong," she said. "Also our mooncakes are HK$10 to HK$20 cheaper per pack than those on the mainland."

A Maxim's spokesman said counterfeiting was not a big problem in Hong Kong because of better controls. "We are taking all appropriate steps and working closely with local officials on counterfeits in the mainland market and still reviewing the impact on sales."

The company encouraged customers to buy their cakes at official outlets and from appropriate distributors.