As China, which consumes 40 billion packets of instant noodles or ramen a year, increases ramen imports from overseas, South Korea has been found to be the main beneficiary.
According to a report released by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) on Nov. 30, China’s ramen imports soared to US$240 million (283.6 billion won) last year from US$83.86 million (99.1 billion won) in 2014. Its imports in the first half of this year grew by 13 percent compared with the same period last year. Particularly, its ramen imports from South Korea amounted to US$100 million (118.1 billion won) last year, up 6.6 times from US$15.15 million (17.9 billion won) in 2014. This boosted South Korea to first place in Chin's market for imported ramen noodles last year, far ahead of Taiwan.
The increase in China’s ramen imports is fueled by continued growth in demand for premium products. With last year’s ramen sales in total rising around 5 percent compared to a year ago, sales of premium ramen products grew over 50 percent.
According to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), last year’s global ramen sales were about 103.6 billion packets, with China (including Hong Kong) accounting for as much as 40.2 billion (38.9 percent) packets. However, in terms of yearly per capita consumption of ramen, South Korea ranked first with 74.6 packets, followed by Vietnam with 53.9 packets and Nepal with 53 packets. South Korea ranked 8th with 3.82 billion packets of ramen sold last year.