Instant noodles on display on a supermarket shelf (Yonhap)
South Korean food and beverage company Nongshim’s instant ramen sales reached 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) for the first time last year on the back of the coronavirus pandemic and the “jjapaguri” dish from the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.”
Sales of the company’s instant noodles rose to 2.09 trillion in 2020, a 16.3 percent year-on-year increase from one year ago and accounted for 79 percent of its total revenue, the firm’s annual report revealed on Wednesday.
“Though the instant ramen market has stable aggregate demand, it appears the recent impact of COVID-19 and social distancing saw the demand grow temporarily,” Nongshim said.
The country’s top instant noodle maker however said that low birth rates and an aging population as well as the “well-being” trend has hurt demand in the industry.
A rise in sales of Chapagetti and Neoguri and the release of new products such as Shin Ramyun Black Tofu Kimchi and Angry RTA helped boost last year’s sales, the company added.
Nongshim America, its US unit, posted 250.2 billion won in ramen sales in 2020, up 26.5 percent while its Chinese unit racked up 218.3 billion won, up 28.2 percent from the previous year.
Chapaguri, or “Ram-don,” is a hybrid instant noodle dish mixed with black bean instant noodles and soup-based Neoguri ramen. It became a worldwide phenomenon after it was featured in the South Korean film “Parasite,” which won four Oscars at the 92nd Academy Awards including best picture.
In the report, Nongshim said trade tensions between the US and China and the rise of nationalism and climate change are casting uncertainty over the market but vowed to focus on premium brands including Shin Ramyun, Neoguri and Chapagetti to expand its presence.
To address the growing number of single-person households, the company added it had expanded its portfolio, citing its ready-to-eat products such as cup tteokbokki and cupbap, also known as cup rice.
Other instant noodle makers also enjoyed a rise in sales with Samyang Foods recording 591.1 billion won in instant noodle sales, a 20.9 percent year-on-year increase, accounting for nearly 91 percent of its total sales.
Ottogi also saw its instant noodle and other noodle products sales rise by 8.4 percent to some 700 billion won over the same period.
By Yim Hyun-su (firstname.lastname@example.org)