Visitors to ancestral tombs opt for paper pigs and other austerity measures Grave-sweepers flooded the final resting places of their ancestors during the Chung Yeung festival yesterday as usual, but offerings for their loved ones shrank in size and variety because of the financial crisis. Instead of genuine roasted pigs, some people went to ancestral graves across the city with paper pigs and they also brought less fruit with them. 'A small roasted pig costs HK$400 while this paper one costs only HK$30,' a grave-sweeper at the Tseung Kwan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery said. 'The economy has changed now. We think it is better to have paper offerings.' Another man said his family brought only apples instead of a variety of fruits. 'Yes, we have brought only one kind of fruit. The economy is so bad now, we have to be careful in spending,' he said. Roast meat shops said business was bad despite lower prices. 'The sales are so poor. I think I sold fewer than 10 pigs today,' a shop owner in Quarry Bay said. In Chinese tradition, the bigger the roasted pig offered, the greater the respect shown to ancestors. 'Prices of roasted pigs have fallen by 10 per cent, compared with the peak during the Mid-Autumn Festival about a month ago,' the shop owner said. He was selling a big roasted pig for HK$800 a month ago, compared with HK$700 yesterday. Sales of paper offerings were dropping too. 'The economic downturn has had a big impact on us,' said the owner of a shop in Hung Hom that sold such products. 'Also, more people now just do not follow Chinese tradition and won't burn offerings to their ancestors.' In order to attract more business, her shop made many unconventional paper offerings, such as paper pet dogs and cats, golf equipment and other accessories. The owner noted that the business was also affected by rising paper prices. 'Luckily, prices have come down a little after the Olympics. But we are still unable to lower prices for customers,' she said. The price of chicken, however, surged to HK$45 a catty despite the market turmoil. The price was more or less the same over the past few weeks but was 50 per cent up on previous years. 'I have never seen such a high price in my life,' Kowloon City chicken vendor Ling Tse said. 'Yes, demand for chicken always rises in festivals, but then the price increase this time is due to decreasing supply.' At the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market yesterday, 11,600 live chickens were available and the average wholesale price was HK$30.10 per catty. 'In the past, the supply of live chicken could reach 30,000 during festivals,' the chicken vendor said. 'But supplies have dropped since many vendors surrendered their licences last month.' Meanwhile, the familiar scene of hill fires across the countryside, caused by careless use of burnt offerings, was not repeated yesterday, with only two small fires reported, both in Yuen Long. The reason could have been higher relative humidity, which stood at 80 per cent, thick clouds and a few showers, while in previous years the festival was usually dry.