Spicy Ramen from South Korea is fast gaining traction in India compared to instant noodles.
After South Korean dramas, beauty products, cars and electronic goods, its noodles are the latest to make inroads into the Indian market.
What started as a fad during the pandemic has become a trend that is here to stay.
Indian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are recognising this trend and expanding their instant noodles’ portfolio to cater to this growing demand for K-noodles.
Recently in November 2023, Nestle India expanded its Maggi brand with the launch of Maggi Korean noodles in two flavours – BBQ chicken and BBQ veg.
Hindustan Unilever also expanded its Knorr brand with the launch of Korean meal pot.
Nissin – the maker of Top Ramen instant noodles – had also launched its Gekki variant of K-noodles three years ago.
According to the latest data shared by consumer intelligence firm NielsenIQ, the size of the Korean noodles market has surged from Rs 2 crore in 2021 to over Rs 65 crore in 2023.
“In terms of value, this segment has experienced a 4X growth compared to last year. It surpassed the 10 per cent growth in instant noodles,” Roosevelt D’souza, head of customer success – India – at NielsenIQ (NIQ) told Business Standard.
“With over a dozen major players in this segment, and in response to the increased demand, we anticipate key players in the instant noodles category expanding their portfolio to include this variant,” D’souza added.
A May 2023 report by quick-commerce platform Zepto stated that demand from Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad is fuelling this growth.
“The recent wave of K-Pop (Korean pop music) and K-Dramas has not only brought Korean culture to India, but also influenced various lifestyle choices cutting across age groups and regions in India. This is particularly seen in new Korean food experiences. It has been fascinating to see the impact of new Korean instant food brands, and an increasing number of restaurants serving the cuisine,” Saurabh Maheshwari, senior vice-president, category and buying, Zepto, stated in the report.
The report had further stated that brands serving Korean and Asian products on the platform had seen a 400 per cent rise in sales during the six months before May 2023.