SINGAPORE – Taste is still tops when it comes to buying mooncakes, while packaging ranks relatively low.
A recent survey by market research platform Milieu Insight of 500 respondents, conducted from Sept 13 to 18, showed that the top three factors sought after when buying mooncakes are taste (82 per cent), price (74 per cent) and flavours (69 per cent).
Only 28 per cent look out for packaging when purchasing mooncakes.
This is despite how packaging for mooncakes can become fancier over the years, from boxes shaped like Chinese pavilions, to a container resembling an actual durian.
At the same time, prices of mooncakes – particularly those from big-name hotels and food establishments – have shot skyward in 2023, soaring to an average of $80 to $100 and beyond for four pieces.
Half – or 51 per cent – of respondents in the Milieu Insight survey found extravagant and fancy packages for mooncakes to be expensive and wasteful, even though retailers said such packaging plays a vital role, as mooncakes are often purchased as gifts.
In addition, the Milieu Insight survey found that 384 respondents – or 76 per cent – would choose to opt out of such packaging in exchange for a discount, never mind if such an option is hardly offered. InterContinental Singapore, which offered a 10 per cent discount for mooncakes without its leatherette box, saw a 25 per cent increase in mooncake sales.
For Mr Jenson Kok, 41, receiving mooncakes in fanciful packaging is “pointless”.
Said the insurance agent: “I have always looked at the packaging as a means by the seller to justify the exorbitant price tag to it.”
“Every time I receive a box of mooncake with fanciful packaging, I would think that I should do something with the nice box, but with numerous boxes sitting at home, it usually ends up discarded – quite a waste, at best I can discard as recyclable waste,” he added.
Mooncake retailers The Straits Times spoke to, however, defend the use of fancy packaging, saying it is important, especially when the mooncakes are given as gifts. They also pointed to how they are environmentally friendly, as they can be reused.
This is the reason why some are made to be reused as tealight holders, while others can be reused as bedside lamp shades, as storage boxes for accessories like watches, or even as a board game in itself.
WOK°15 Kitchen at Marina Sentosa Cove, for instance, said its mooncake boxes are designed to be reused as a candle holder, and that their paper packaging is made from sustainable sources.
Chairman of the Packaging Council of Singapore Industry Group at the Singapore Manufacturing Association (SMA) May Yap agreed that there has been a notable rise in the adoption of sustainable packaging methods and materials in the design of mooncake packaging.
Said Ms Yap: “Many industries, including hotels and bakeries, have been focusing on sustainable packaging. While sustainability is an emerging concern, packaging for products such as mooncakes, which are often purchased as gifts, needs to be visually appealing.”