Foreign noodles tap into Korean market
By Kim Tae-gyu
White-broth instant noodles have made a dent in the domestic market long been dominated by spicy red-soup offerings, but their popularity has faded just as quickly as it appeared.
Foreign products seem to be picking up the slack as now everyone knows instant noodles, or ramyeon doesn’t have to have a red soup in order to be good.
The country’s discount chains said Thursday that imported ramyeon has been selling well of late. Previously they failed to gain popularity because they are not as spicy but consumers’ tastes have changed.
``Imported ramyeon from such nations as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia came to town in 2008 to fight their way into supermarket but failed to fly off the shelves,’’ said an industry source who asked not to be named.
``Their sales slowly increased in the late 2000s but recently the pace has jumped. Some analysts say that the white-broth ramyeon introduced consumers to an alternative and now imports have replaced them.’’
E-Mart, the market leader in the discount chain industry, said that the sales of imported ramyeon have rocketed by a double-digit rate this year compared to a year before.
No. 3 player Lotte Mart has a similar analysis.
``During the past few years, more and more shoppers are picking imported ramyeon. In order to meet the new demand, we opted to market more brands from overseas,’’ a Lotte Mark official said.
Currently, Lotte Mart sells a total of nine types of imported ramyeon and they have price competitiveness at around 1,000 won although very expensive ones are also on the shelf with price tags of more than 5,000 won, according to the official.
After ramyeon became available here in the early 1960s, red-broth products ruled the market and Nongshim wore the crown as the runaway leader over the past quarter century thanks to Shin ramyeon, which means very spicy. Midway through 2011 its supremacy was shaken by Kokomen, a ramyeon with a white broth by Paldo.
Similar products have been rolled out by Paldo’s competitors so that the new ramyeon variety combined to carve out up to 17.1 percent of demand last December.
Since then their market share has dipped to 15.1 percent in January and slumped to 7.9 percent in April. It might be a seasonal thing.