Mooncake sales soar online ahead of Mid-Autumn Festival on Oct 1

Mooncake sales have largely moved online this year, with sellers seeing brisk business

No bustling large-scale mall atrium mooncake fairs? No problem.

Most of this year’s mooncake hustle is happening online, with businesses seeing a surge in the lead-up to the Mid-Autumn Festival on Oct 1.

In addition to their own e-commerce sites, many mooncake purveyors have gone onto multiple online platforms such as Qoo10 and Lazada, which provide the ease of ordering across multiple vendors as well as delivery.

Takashimaya Department Store and Tangs – traditionally known for their annual atrium mooncake fairs – also retail mooncakes online now. Both also have a reduced number of mooncake booths operating within store premises.

Business owners note that since the pandemic hit, consumers have become used to ordering food online, which has helped to boost mooncake sales this year.

Some purveyors are on different platforms to maximise exposure and sales. Neighbourhood bakery Gin Thye, which operates out of Sembawang Road and has built its name as a heritage brand online, is 
listed on many e-stores including Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee, often with differentiated mooncake offerings to stand out in a crowded online marketplace.

It worked with Shopee to create exclusive bundles such as a Snow Skin Premium Bamboo Charcoal Red Prawn Mooncake and White Skin Durian Mochi bundle, which has made up more than 20 per cent of its total sales.

Gin Thye’s e-commerce consultant Alan Siek, 30, says more than half of its mooncake sales are via Shopee. Compared with last year, online sales have increased by 250 per cent, while offline sales have increased by 20 per cent.

Sales for home-grown brand Mdm Ling Bakery “increased three- to fourfold” compared with last year, when it debuted its mooncakes. It is on platforms such as Klook, Pickupp, Shopee, Lazada and Grab.

With sampling not allowed because of the pandemic, Mdm Ling Bakery’s co-founder Evelyn Lim’s strategy is to send samples to existing customers who make online purchases. This has translated into strong sales of her new cookie- inspired flavours such as pink Himalayan salt chocolate almond mooncakes and premium Mao Shan Wang durian mooncakes. She foresees selling out her stock soon.

Indeed, all online platforms have seen an uptick in the number of mooncake merchants selling through their sites, and brisk sales.

E-store Shopee Singapore’s inaugural mooncake fair started last year with about 10 brands, but has expanded to more than 30 brands this year.

Mr Tiger Wang, head of marketing for Shopee Singapore, observes a mix of returning brands such as Gin Thye, Emicakes and Golden Moments as well as newcomers from big-name hotels such as Raffles Hotel and Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

Mooncakefair.com, which was set up in July by Sinpopo Fairs – the sister company of chocolate cake chain Awfully Chocolate – to support fellow mooncake retailers, has also seen more traditional mooncake retailers, such as Tai Chong Kok and Spring Court, selling mooncakes on its online platform for the first time.

Similarly, many more mooncake merchants have listed on Grab this year, says a Grab spokesman, adding that its mooncake sales have tripled from last year.

Other trending flavours this year include snowskin durian mooncakes, along with traditional baked ones that usually have a longer shelf-life.

Mr Jonathan Lim, founder and chief executive of online ordering system Oddle, says traditional baked mooncakes have made up about 80 per cent of sales.

Cantonese restaurant Yan at National Gallery Singapore sold out its mooncakes by the second week of this month.

Due to lower projected sales, it reduced production volume by about 40 per cent, compared with the previous year, says its general manager Shek Chi Kuen, 57.

But it was cheered by the unexpectedly positive online orders. MrShek adds: “We are considering trying out other online platforms to create more merchandising channels for the upcoming gifting season and for our Chinese New Year goodies.” 


New hybrid mooncake flavours to try 

COOKIE-INSPIRED MOONCAKES

What: If you like Mdm Ling Bakery’s popular cookies, you will like its baked mooncakes, whose flavours are inspired by the cookies.

Two stand-out mooncake flavours are kopi siew dai (coffee with less sugar) and pink Himalayan salt chocolate almond, with the almond bits giving a nice crunch.

Pair the mooncakes with tea from actress Vivian Lai’s Teabrary brand, which is packaged as a set with the mooncakes. A box of four cookie-inspired mooncakes comes with either cold brew tea ($48) or Four Seasons Spring Oolong Tea ($45).

The cover of the home-grown bakery’s mooncake tin features a snakes and ladders board game with a Mid-Autumn twist – giving you something to do while enjoying the treats.

Where: Mdm Ling Bakery

When: Till Oct 1

Info: Call 8468-0201 or order at www.mdmlingbakery.com 

SALTED EGG YAM’O


PHOTO: OLD CHANG KEE

What: Snack chain Old Chang Kee’s limited-edition Salted Egg Yam’O may not be a traditional yam mooncake, but at $2.20 each, it is a low-cost substitute for the traditional flaky pastry.

This puff is filled with sweet yam and salted egg yolk. It is not too big and is easy to eat on the go.

Old Chang Kee also has a two-piece gift set at $5.80 (minimum order of 20 sets, call 6555-0055 or e-mail catering@oldchangkee.com) – good for gifting.

Where: All Old Chang Kee outlets

When: Till Oct 1

Info: www.facebook.com/oldchangkee1956 

MID-AUTUMN SABLES


PHOTO: FOLKS AND STORIES

What: Known for its cookies, bakery Folks and Stories is offering mooncake-inspired sables ($38 for six).

Flavours include cheddar and white lotus with sliced almond and original brown butter and lotus with gula melaka – a spin on the traditional lotus paste. Other unique fillings include chocolate and Earl Grey custard, and rose and pistachio frangipane, all encased in a sable cookie “skin”, which gives a crumbly and slightly flaky texture.

Where: Folks and Stories

When: Till Oct 3

Info: Pre-order required at www.folksandstories.com 

ALMOND SABLE MOONCAKE


PHOTO: BAKERY BRERA

What: This traditional mooncake filled with white lotus paste and a chewy mochi centre gets a French twist encased in a buttery and crumbly sable pastry.

The different textures make each bite a delight and each mooncake costs $8.50.

The bakery’s flaky galaxy mooncake pastries also make a return this year due to popular demand. They come in three flavours ($7.50 a piece) – charcoal yam mochi, turmeric white lotus mochi and matcha mochi.

Where: Bakery Brera & Fine Foods, 01-05, 8 Empress Road; open: 7am to 7pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays

Info: Order at www.bakerybrera.com/shop 

LAPIS SNOWSKIN MOONCAKE


PHOTO: THE LAPIS PLACE 

What: Rainbow kueh lapis wrapped in an equally colourful snowskin is this season’s most Insta-friendly mooncake ($46 for two pieces, $88 for four). It is also tasty, carrying a fragrance of coconut, and is best eaten chilled.

The mooncakes come in a beautiful box with a 3D cut-out of Chinese goddess Chang’e and a story of the Mid-Autumn Festival’s origins.

Other flavours are cempedak, Earl Grey and pandan. An $88 set gets you one of each flavour, including the rainbow one.

Where: The Lapis Place, B1-K4 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road (till Oct 4); Tangs Plaza Orchard (till Oct 1)

Info: Order at www.thelapisplace.com or mooncakefair.com


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2020, with the headline 'Mooncake sales not waning'. Subscribe