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Richmond bakeries battle mooncake ingredient shortage

Increased shipping costs affecting local businesses
Mooncake
A lotus paste seed-filledmooncake

Mooncakes are a staple dessert when it comes to the Mid-Autumn Festival, but a couple of Richmond bakeries say they had to prepare in advance for a shortage of a particular mooncake filling ingredient this year.

Saint Germaine bakery marketing manager Alex Ma said they had to prepare six to nine months earlier than usual to purchase a traditional mooncake filling called lotus seed paste.

“While all our mooncakes use locally-sourced ingredients, the lotus seed paste is the most important part and has to be imported from overseas,” said Ma.

He told the Richmond News that the ingredient has to be imported because no company manufactures the ingredient locally due to high costs and that it “takes a lot of work to make it.”

“We still offer traditional lotus seed paste-filled mooncakes this year, but we don’t have as much as we used to in previous years.”

He added that this year, Saint Germaine pivoted to custard mooncakes that are made using dairy products and salted duck eggs, all sourced locally as well.

The ingredient shortage, said Ma, for their bakery is mainly due to “shipment problems” around the world.

“It’s not just the food industry that has been impacted. Shipping costs have definitely increased in general … and is basically a domino effect from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We had to order everything earlier including the packaging, which is bulky and heavy, with high costs and shipping delays in mind.”

Meanwhile, another Richmond-based bakery, La Patisserie, also felt the pressure of increased shipping costs ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Alex Cheung, manager at La Patisserie, said the bakery expected shipping delays and ingredient delays earlier this year as well.

“Shipment got a bit more expensive so everything, in general, got more expensive as well,” said Cheung.

“Our business and sales were impacted one way or another, which is expected with the increase in prices. We also had some items that couldn’t make it in time too.”