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Pioneer of white broth instant noodles losing steam

The white broth instant noodles market is taking a new turn with the hit Kkokkomyeon giving way to rival Nagasaki Jjamgppong.

Paldo Co.’s Kkokkomyeon, which uses chicken broth, started the frenzy for white broth last year in the Korean instant noodle market traditionally dominated by ramyeon with its red-hot chili favored soup. Kkkomyeon and Nagasaki Jjamppong accounted for a fifth of all ramyeon sales at one point.

The award-wining Kkokkomyeon sold more than 100 million packets in just over five months after it was released in August last year. It soon became unavailable in supermarkets, adding to its popularity.

Samyang Foods Co. launched Nagasaki Jjamppong, which uses broth from pig bones, days earlier, and Ottogi Co., Ltd. began selling similar chicken broth noodles in November, but Kkokkomyeon was unbeatable.

The tide turned recently, however, with sales of Kkokkomyeon dropping after aggressive marketing by its rivals.

A local supermarket chain said sales of Kkokkomyeon plunged from 1.78 billion won in December to 1.43 billion won in January and 570 million won in February.

Sales of Ottogi’s chicken broth noodles more than halved in the same period from 1 billion won in December to 420 million won in February.

Sales of Nagasaki Jjambbong, on the other hand, are on the rise from 1.74 billion won in December to 1.79 billion won in January and 1.84 billion won in February.

Nongshim Co.’s chicken broth kalguksu, launched early this year, also jumped in sales from 150 million won in January to 390 million won last month.

Declining sales of Kkokkomyeon was evident in another major discount store chain as well.

A Paldo official said that its sales of Kkokkomyeon fell because its competitors attracted consumers by selling six packets for the price of five.

Paldo announced it will begin sales of a new ramyeon based on the chili flavored red broth as the successor to Kkokkomyeon in mid-March.

Some market analysts say Paldo’s return to the conventional red soup indicates the limited growth of the white broth instant noodles market.

By Kim So-hyun (