Exports of S. Korean instant noodles up 122% over 5 years

By Park Sae-jin Posted : February 18, 2020, 11:06 Updated : February 18, 2020, 11:06

[Courtesy of Samyang Foods]

SEOUL -- Exports of South Korean instant noodles known as Ramyeon have seen a steady increase, capturing the hearts of noodle lovers who favor challenging hot and spicy brands.

According to K-stat, a trade statistical information system operated by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), exports of ramyeon stood at $467 million in 2019, up 13.1 percent from a year ago.

The export volume has increased by 122 percent over the last five years. China is the largest importer of South Korean ramyeon with $124 million, followed by the United States with $54 million. Hot South Korean instant noodles are also popular in Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

According to a report released by Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, South Korean exported $380 million worth of ramyeon to the Middle East in 2019. 

Samyang Foods, credited for introducing the first instant noodles in South Korea in 1963, has targeted Southeast Asian countries with Halal-certified "Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen. When the noodles famous for its infernal spiciness hit the shelves in Southeast Asian countries in 2017, it created an online phenomenon, with consumers uploading their agonizing journey of eating hot noodles onto YouTube.

Backed by the online phenomenon and Hallyu (Korean cultural wave), total global exports of Samyang's hot instant noodles quintupled from 50 billion won ($42 million) in 2015 to 259 billion won in 2017.

[Courtesy of Shinsegae Food]

Samyang's success with halal-certified spicy chicken noodles prompted other South Korean companies to target the global Halal market. Shinsegae Food, a subsidiary of South Korean retail giant Shinsegae, unveiled a Halal-certified instant noodle brand called "Daebak", which means jackpot or big success in Korean, in Malaysia in 2018.

While Samyang's Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen is a spaghetti-like instant noodle with no soup, Shinsegae's Daebak Ramyeon maintained South Korea's popular noodle soup style. Daebak Ramyeon used its spiciness in marketing to dare customers to try the instant noodles. According to Shinsegae Food, more than five million noodles packs were sold in Malaysia between March 2018 and November 2019.
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