For two nights, retiree May Chan slept outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai to make sure she could be among the first to enter the annual Food Expo on Thursday morning.
The 75-year-old was amply rewarded. She took part in a game similar to curling – where players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area – but using suitcases filled with boxes of the Chinese delicacy abalone, and her team of five won.
So Chan brought home 26 boxes of abalone – worth between HK$7,000 (US$897) and HK$8,000.
“I am overjoyed. I am going to share these with my family,” she said.
Like Chan, hordes of early birds flocked to the opening of the 29th Food Expo to snap up discounted products. About 150 people were in the line when the fair opened its doors at 10am.
This year, a record number of more than 1,560 exhibitors from more than 20 countries and regions are taking part in the five-day fair, which ends on Monday.
Maggie Ho, a 40-year-old housewife, also spent the night outside the exhibition centre, but was too late to take part in the scramble for abalone. An exhibitor hosted the game to lure early birds, with contestants paying HK$1 to take part.
While the winners, like Chan, won big, even members of the losing team got 12 boxes of abalone each.
But Ho was not disappointed after missing out on the game. “This is my first time waiting overnight to visit the expo. I’m thrilled to grab discounted products and enjoy the atmosphere here,” she said.
She said products sold at the expo would have at least 30 per cent off, and she was ready to spend HK$5,000 on goods.
Another early bird, 29-year-old Tony Lai, tried his hand at another HK$1 game and won a 30-year supply of durian snowskin mooncake from the Chui Lau Heung brand, worth HK$24,240.
“I didn’t have any strategy and I just got lucky. I really like durian and I will share it with my family,” Lai, who attended the event on his day off, said.
Apart from HK$1 games, other exhibitors are using different strategies to entice customers to their stalls.
Karlson Wong, executive director of Kee Wah Bakery is hoping for a “double-digit” spike in business. Along with 30 per cent off on mooncakes, his company is offering discounted grab bags that include the signature product and freshly baked pastries.
But Chow Yan-fen, of the Hong Kong-based Korea Hanyinhong, was less optimistic about her company’s expected sales.
“We are just hoping we can keep up with last year’s sales numbers,” she said. “With the unexpected weather, the number of visitors might drop.”
To reduce the amount of disposable plastic utensils used, visitors can pay a HK$20 deposit to borrow a container and wooden utensils to use while they attend the expo. Since the amount of available reusable tableware is limited, visitors are also encouraged to bring their own.
Other events at the food gala include 10 top chefs giving cooking demonstrations, a seminar on herbal tea and lucky draws.
Meanwhile, the Beauty & Wellness Expo, the Home Delights Expo and the Hong Kong International Tea Fair are also running in the same venue. The four fairs drew almost 500,000 visitors last year.
Standard admission is HK$40. Visitors who enter before noon or after 6pm on certain days will pay HK$10.
This article Hong Kong Food Expo worth wait for retiree as she bags HK$7,000 of abalone in HK$1 game first appeared on South China Morning Post