Feb 26, 2021|

Demand for Yuanxiao/Tangyuan Skyrockets ahead of the Lantern Festival


by Ella Kidron

Consumer preferences around Lantern Festival in China are changing, according to JD’s big data. Lantern Festival (which falls on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar – Feb. 26 this year) is usually a time for people in China to gather around the table and eat “yuanxiao” in the north of China and “tangyuan” in the south of China. Both yuanxiao and tangyuan are glutinous rice balls which typically have a sweet filling.

JD big data shows that in the week leading up to the festival, the amount of glutinous rice balls sold increased eight times YOY, and lanterns doubled. This is no surprise as online channels have become a major force for the FMCG category, especially as of last year.

What is new, however, is the move towards new flavors and styles. For example, the sales volume of salty yolk-filled glutinous rice balls increased 1.5 times YOY. What’s more, among the fruit-flavored category, durian is the highest. Salty flavors are also highly popular, with fresh meat glutinous rice balls increasing by more than 1.5 times YOY. Consumers are also opting for lanterns which have creative designs on them.

In the week before Lantern festival, users searched most not for black sesame flavored glutinous rice balls (a traditional and popular flavor), but for rice rhubarb (大黄米), sugar-free, chocolate and other flavors. Lettuce sales also increased, thanks to the tradition in the south of China to consume it since the word for lettuce sounds like the word for “making money”(生财) in Chinese. Sales of lettuce increased by 77% YOY.

With the main New Year feasts of this year now over, consumers are looking to get back in shape. The sales volume of scales sold reached the highest level in nearly a month, while consumption of sports-related items increased more than 1.6 times YOY.

The below infographics indicate some of the Lantern Festival trends this year:

Popular products sold during Lantern Festival

Popular flavors of glutinous rice balls include fresh meat, rhubarb rice, salty-yolk and sweet-scented osmanthus