From the humble beginnings of 1958, with Momofuku Ando’s momentous invention called “Chicken Ramen”, the global instant noodles market was the harbinger of convenience food which has diversified to such a great extent, leading the instant noodle to be acknowledged as a kitchen-cupboard staple, around the world. In other words, this pantry essential is the most trusted food product, which is ubiquitously consumed, irrespective of the occasion, climate, and age. It has undergone many stages of evolution since then and is now made commercially available along with tastemakers of various flavors. Further, enabling the consumption of noodles directly from its package, which is made commercially available in the form of cups, has facilitated in its increased sales worldwide.
Moreover, the increasing inclination to integrate convenience food in the daily diet to spare some time for other activities that in and of itself stems from the hectic urban lifestyle is at the core that is expected to drive the growth of the instant noodle market. However, regular consumption of instant noodles has negative health implication that is expected to restrain the growth of the market to a certain extent, concomitantly pave the way for market players to expand their portfolio with nutritious noodles which are fortified with calcium, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B2 among other essential nutrients, for example as well as make noodles with non-traditional ingredients.
Rural population (% of total population)
Source: World Bank
Rapid Urbanization Is the Prime Factor Which Is Expected to Drive the Market Growth
Rural to urban migration and concomitant urbanizationare resulting in the adoption of new trends which is leading to an increasing inclination of consumption of ready-to-eat food, among others. Further convenience snacking is also another aspect that stems from the aforesaid, which is partly facilitating the consumption of instant noodles. Along with the shift from traditional food and beverage consumption, is the increasing household expenditure on processed food that is poised to drive the global instant noodle market growth. Currently, a bulk of the global population resides in urban areas. As of 2018, the most urbanized region of the world was Northern America, wherein 82% of its population was living in urban areas.
This was followed by 81% of the population of Latin American and Caribbean which are concentrated in urban settlements and 74 % of the population of Europe that is concentrated in urban settlements. Moreover, the share of the global population living in urban areas is estimated to reach 60 % in 2030 from 55 % in 2018. Africa and Asia as of 2018 depicted the lowest levels of urbanization. However, by 2030, urban settlements are projected to support 47 % of the population in Africa, 56 % in Asia, and 71 % in Oceania. Further by 2050, the African urban population is expected to triple. In the case of Asia, it is expected to increase by 61 %. Thus by 2050 most of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia (52 %) and Africa (21%). Therefore, the continuing urbanization expected to lead to contribute to higher consumption of processed and convenience food, and an increasing tendency to eat outside the home.
Asia, Total Population at Mid-Year Estimates
Total population (thousands)
By Geography, Asia Is Anticipated to Occupy a Substantial Share of the Market During the Forecast Period
In comparison with other continents the APAC region in the most diverse with varying food habits and constitutes more than half of the global population which is to the tune of 4.1 billion. Developing countries with an expected per capita income growth rate of 5% are the regions rapidly developing areas. During the next 10 years Viet Nam, India, and China are expected to grow at 5-6% p.a. while Indonesia is expected to grow at 3% p.a. Concerning Indonesia, the grocery retail sales reached $115 billion in 2019 as per USDA. Due to COVID 19, the country witnessed panic buying during the first quarter of 2020 that resulted in a surge in instant noodles sales among others. Also, the consumer of the country refrained from visiting wet markets during the initial stages of the pandemic and turned their attention towards shopping at modern shops, which are perceived as more hygienic. In the case of Thailand, a growing young, middle-income population with higher disposable incomes and a greater propensity to spend, and a trend towards urbanization are the key drivers of throttling the food retail sector to new heights. These estimations, among others, are expected to influence the global instant noodles market positively.
The substantial scope of product innovation responding to the demand for healthy food consumption is expected to augment the growth of the market
The aforementioned factors like urbanization and increasing disposable income not only aids in increasing the sales of ready-to-eat food products such as instant noodles, but also give rise to health-conscious eating habits. The global food and beverage industry has considered this recent development which has gained substantial steam and has included this in their rationale for new product development. For instance, South Korean food giant Nongshim was reported to unveil a new non-fried type variant of its best-selling instant noodle brand Shin Ramyun during February 2019, without compromising on the widely recognized spice and unique flavor which the organization is known to offer.
Again, pertaining to a player in the APAC region, as of December 2019, NamZ, which is a Singapore food science start-up has reportedly come up with a proprietary technology whereby the traditional deep-frying process to dehydrate and remove moisture to increase its shelf life of noodles has been eliminated. This aids in the retention of the inherent nutrients and nutritional properties of the high protein, nutrient-rich ingredients of their noodles that include the Bambara groundnut and moringa. It is pertinent to note that aforesaid ingredients are known as future-fit crops that can withstand adverse climate changes, require less water, are nutrient-rich, and can produce good yields economically on degraded or marginalized land. Therefore, this unique product is also expected to woo in environmentally conscious consumers too.