Food

Chinese Youth Take Their Love for Instant Noodles to the Next Level

Chinese Youth Take Their Love for Instant Noodles to the Next Level

From salmon-topped noodles to a Shanghai restaurant with over 100 varieties of instant noodles, China's youth are tricking out cup noodles

Instant noodles were first invented in 1958 by Japan’s Momofuku Ando of the Nissin Foods company. Many countries have since imported and developed their own varieties of instant noodles.

Momofuku Ando

—  investor of Nissin instant noodles

In China, four local brands dominate the market.  According to Daxue Consulting, in 2018, the four companies occupied more than 80% of the total market share of instant noodles in China.

Master Kong 

Jin Mai Lang

Uni-President

Bai Xiang

China is now the biggest market for instant noodles globally.  Though the food item appeared in China in the 1960s, it didn’t become widely accepted until the ’80s. And now, it is the biggest market for instant noodles globally. According to the World Instant Noodles Association (yes, it’s a thing), Chinese mainlanders and Hong Kong residents combined ate more than 46 billion servings of instant noodles in 2020 — almost four times as much as the world’s second-largest market, Indonesia.

Walmart’s online sales of instant noodles jumped 578% between February 23 and March 21 last year.

Thanks to the global pandemic, cup noodles have become one of the most popular items in grocery stores worldwide. 

Master Kong introduced its high-end product, Express Noodle, at the Single’s Day Shopping Festival in 2018 and sold out in two hours. They cost 25RMB per cup, five times the price of its classic beef noodles. The brand will also provide customized Express Noodles for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Chinese millennials and Gen Zers who grew up with instant noodles are demanding healthier, trendier choices of their favorite treat.

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Ramen Talk claims to provide “restaurant-level tastes at home,” with handmade fresh noodles and authentic ingredients. In 2020, its sales reached 600 million RMB.

New brands such as Ramen Talk and Yuan Niang Niang are also emerging in China’s market.

Most regions in China have their own distinguished cuisine, which usually includes a famous local noodle variety. 

Some of these unique regional flavors have been made instantly available, such as reganmian (hot dry noodles) from Wuhan and luosifen (rice noodles with river snail broth) from the southern province of Guangxi.