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Common Mistakes When Shipping Mooncakes

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Apart from the Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Mooncake Festival) is another festival celebrated by the Chinese worldwide. During this time of the year, businesses and bakeries will promote their latest mooncakes to customers in shopping malls and on social media. With the pastry attaining the status as being a symbolic gift for the occasion, many people started to send mooncakes as gifts to friends, relatives, and business partners locally and abroad.

However, 34 countries have imposed strict restrictions on the export of mooncakes, a ruling that was implemented since 2016. With this in force, certain ingredients such as egg yolk and meat are prohibited for being imported.

If you want to send mooncakes to your friends and relatives abroad, you will have to check the intended destination’s restrictions and regulations. Read on to learn more about some of the common mistakes made when shipping mooncakes overseas.

What are the challenges companies face when shipping mooncakes?

The biggest challenge for manufacturers and companies looking to send their mooncakes to overseas customers are the strict rules and regulations with regards to the import and export of food items. The products' shipment period, which usually takes at least a week, is another important consideration. As mooncakes are baked goods with a shorter shelf life, they might suffer in terms of quality when being transported over great distances.

What are the most common mistakes when shipping mooncakes, and how can you avoid making them?

Here are some common mistakes that exporters make when shipping their mooncakes overseas:

Shipping mooncakes that contain prohibited ingredients

To avoid this, it is important to check the destination country's list of restricted and banned goods. There should not be any issue if the rules and regulations are being adhered to, and the companies do their due diligence. In countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Japan, specific requirements apply to the ingredients found in mooncakes, not the pastry itself. For example, shipping mooncakes to New Zealand is permissible if they do not contain honey or egg yolks. As for Australia, though another country is the Oceania region, unlike New Zealand, shipping mooncakes as a festive gift to a private address is allowed as long as they do not contain meat.

Country/RegionRestrictionDetail
AustraliaMeat, Poultry, and EggMooncakes cannot contain meat, poultry, and/or egg.
 New Zealand Egg and HoneyMooncakes made with ingredients such as egg or honey are banned.
USA Meat, Poultry, and Egg

Mooncakes cannot contain meat, poultry, and/or egg.

(Food items imported into the US must required prior approval from the Food Drug Administration)

Canada Meat, Poultry, and EggMooncakes cannot contain meat, poultry, and/or egg.
 The United Kingdom (UK) Expiry DateThe sell-by-dates of the mooncakes cannot exceed a month
Japan Expiry Date
  • Packages must be labelled with a detailed list of ingredients. 

  • The sell-by-dates of the mooncakes cannot exceed a month and must be listed clearly.

  • Relevant documents such as hygiene to accompany the shipment.

EuropeNutsMooncakes cannot contain nuts of any type.

Shipping over long distances

Another common problem when shipping mooncakes abroad is the time taken. Packages are usually in transit for at least a week, and this can affect the quality. The loss in the quality of the mooncakes can affect the reliability of the business, which is why there is a need to use ingredients that have a longer shelf life to make the mooncakes. In addition, it will also be prudent to engage the services of an experienced and reliable delivery service provider to help with the logistics, as this will ensure that your mooncakes are delivered to the intended recipients promptly.

Lack of proper documentation

Mooncakes are difficult to inspect, which is why many countries have strict clearance requirements. For example, shipping to the US requires FDA approval. In addition to the country-specific list of documentation, exporters must provide the following documents:

  • Customs export declaration

  • Commercial invoice 

  • Bill of lading 

  • Packing list 

  • Certificate of origin 

Failure to present the correct documentation to customs officials can lead to losses and legal problems for exporters. In this regard, companies must ensure that they are aware of the clearance requirements for each destination by checking the relevant government’s websites. 

Minimise the risk of shipment errors

Shipping mooncakes or other food items internationally can be complex, especially for beginners with no experience in exporting products. To avoid having your shipment delayed or rejected, it is important to know what is permissible and what is prohibited when it comes to ingredients in mooncakes. By working with a reliable courier, you can minimise mistakes and avoid the risk of having your shipment being held up at the customs.

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