Spicy Gangnam style noodles power the K-food export market to new highs

Spicy Gangnam style noodles power the K-food export market to new highs

Korean or K-food has become increasingly popular in recent years driven by popular dramas, clever marketing and a consumer thirst for novel and exotic food tastes and experiences.

The average Korean eats noodles, Ramyun or Ramen over 71 times a year, followed closely by Indonesia and Vietnam. However, like many North Asian markets, Korea faces demographic challenges of an ageing population forcing businesses to find new international markets to sustain growth.

Recent trade statistics from the Korean authorities have revealed that Ramyun exports have tripled in value in the last 10 years and in 2016 were worth USD290m. Growth in Ramyun has been much faster than other categories like Ginseng, Pork, Poultry, Confectionery or even Alcohol.

The hottest export markets for Ramyun include China, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Whether China’s mid-2016 restrictions on K-drama will hinder future growth remains to be seen. (A move taken in response to South Korea’s THAAD deployment)

Nongshim, previously known as Lotte Food Industrial Company, is Korea’s biggest Ramyun maker with annual noodle sales exceeding USD1billion. Nongshim’s noodle business has seen a mix of ups and downs in the last three years. Late in December Nongshim pushed through a noodle price increase, largely because of the Won’s weakness; Korean noodle makers rely upon imported grains, one of the product’s largest components. To date this price increase has not been followed by Nongshim’s competitors. 

Nongshim scored a big hit with its Shin Ramyeon Black product a couple of years ago, promoted with Gangnam style commercials centred around celebrity Psy. The Black Ramyun sports a thicker and meatier broth plus enjoys does of red pepper and green onion for a stronger spice kick.

Nongshim has made the Shin Ramyeon Black the centre of its export marketing efforts.

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