Vietnam has overtaken South Korea to become the largest instant noodles consumer in the world in 2021, according to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA). On average, a Vietnamese consumed about 87 servings of instant noodles a year followed by South Korea (73 packs) and Nepal (55 servings).
However, in terms of total market consumption, Vietnam ranked 3rd with 8.6 billion servings behind China (44 billion servings) and Indonesia (13.3 billion servings) in 2021. Apparently, all the 3 countries with the highest per capita consumption as well as total consumption demand are in Asia, signifying that instant noodle is well ingrained as part of the Asian community regular diet. Besides being convenient, it is also affordable and has a long shelf live, which will make it an ideal product to store during the pandemic.
In the rural areas, the popularity of instant noodles depend on its price points and value-for-money, whereas in the urban areas, instant noodle producers start to adopt ‘premiumisation’ as consumers are trending towards healthy products. Some producers introduced instant noodles with no artificial coloring or flavoring, and some even fortifying their products with vitamins, proteins and minerals to make them more nutritious.
The most popular flavor category for instant noodle is spicy which can come in curry, mala, kimchi or wasabi flavors amongst others. The next popular category is meat flavor like pork, beef or seafood, followed by Asian localised flavors like laksa, mee goreng and tom yum. The top reason why Asian consumers are fond of instant noodles are its rich and long-lasting ‘umami’ flavor which appeal to their taste buds. Some of the latest instant noodle flavors include salted egg and miso flavors which are extensions to the rich Asian flavors.