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Instant noodle exports break records again


Korean instant noodle exports in the first 11 months of last year set a new record amid the prolonged pandemic and the popularity of “chapaguri,” a mix of two different instant noodle products featured in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.”

Exports of ramen, known locally as “ramyeon,” in January-November 2021 hit $607.9 million, up 10.6 percent from the same period a year prior. The 2020 total, which was then the highest ever annual figure, was $603.6 million, according to the Korea Customs Service and food industry.

Those exports more than tripled from $186.7 million 10 years ago in 2001.

The figure rose from $413.1 million in 2018 to $467 million in 2019, and jumped to $603.6 million in 2020.

Industry officials attribute the sharp rise to increased global demand for instant noodles as an emergency food to stock up on, as more people stayed home during the pandemic, as well as the “chapaguri” trend amid the continued rise of Korean pop culture.

The growth of ramen exports slowed last year, compared to 2020, due to a global supply chain crisis, but considering that food companies such as Nongshim and Paldo produce ramen from overseas plants, the combined worldwide sales of Korean noodles were much bigger. 

By country, ramen exports of $133.4 million went to China, nearly $70.8 million to the US, $58.8 million to Japan, $29.2 million to Taiwan, $26 million to the Philippines, $25 million to Malaysia, $19.5 million to Australia and $27.2 million found its way to Thailand.

By Kim So-hyun (