No saving grace in mooncake waste

Local | Charlotte Luo 16 Aug 2019

Hong Kong households failed to finish 2.9 million mooncakes last Mid-Autumn Festival, an increase of 630,000 from the year before, according to a food recycling group's survey.

The main reason was they received too many mooncakes as gifts, Food Grace found after visiting 257 families to learn about their mooncake consumption last year.

The group found that each household failed to finish an average of 2.9 mooncakes last year, which was 0.63 more than two years ago. A third of the households donated the unopened mooncakes.

Using the per household average, the group estimated the SAR as a whole would have seen 2.9 million leftover mooncakes last year.

"Many organizations and families chose to send mooncakes as gifts due to Chinese tradition. But many aren't willing to receive mooncakes," said Casey Ng, the group's project officer.

"The problem of mooncake waste is very serious in Hong Kong.

"They should try to ask about their recipients' willingness in receiving mooncakes, in order to choose the best gift for the others."

As for reasons behind the waste, 60 percent of respondents said they received too many as gifts. Another 40 percent said they did not finish the mooncakes they had due to health reasons.

The survey also found more than half of the respondents do not plan to buy any mooncakes this year. A similar number do not wish to receive any mooncakes as gifts.

The organization also interviewed 30 companies and institutions, 17 of which said that they would give out mooncakes to employees. On average, each company and institution gives out 151 boxes of mooncakes to staff, while sending mooncakes to customers or partners mainly because of tradition.

Food Grace collected a record 80,000 mooncakes last year, 90 percent of which came from different manufacturers. Most of them were "lava custard" mooncakes, a popular gift choice over the past two years.

New flavors are not necessarily welcomed by households. The group said most mooncakes they collected were new flavors introduced that year.

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