April 26, 2022
SEOUL – Exports of Korean instant noodles, or “ramyeon,” last month broke the $70 million mark for the first time amid continued global popularity of Korean pop culture and the pandemic.
March exports of ramyeon grew 20 percent from a year ago to $71.58 million, up 35.8 percent from February, according to the Korea Customs Service and food industry sources. The previous monthly record for ramyeon exports was $66.66 million in December last year.
The export volume of ramyeon also surpassed 20,000 metric tons for the first time in March.
China was the biggest export market for Korean instant noodles last month, with $19.08 million, followed by the US ($9.75 million), Japan ($5.71 million), Thailand ($2.9 million), Canada ($2.89 million), the Philippines ($2.57 million), Malaysia ($2.53 million), Hong Kong ($2.26 million) and the Netherlands ($2.2 million).
Exports exceeded $1 million also in Taiwan ($1.97 million), Australia ($1.92 million), United Arab Emirates ($1.78 million), Vietnam ($1.13 million) and Mexico ($1.05 million).
March ramyeon exports to Russia fell 58 percent from a year ago, and 59.7 percent from February, to about $54,000. Exports to Ukraine went from $36,000 in February to zero in March.
Food industry sources attribute the constant growth of ramyeon exports to the global boom of Korean movies, drama and music.
Overseas K-pop fans have shown great interest in “chapaguri,” a mixture of Chapaghetti, instant black bean noodles, and Neoguri, spicy udon-like noodles, which was featured in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite” (2019).
Samyang Foods’ Hot Spicy Chicken Noodles, or Buldakbokeummyeon, has been hugely popular in Southeast Asia for years.
Demand for Korean instant noodles has grown recently in the Middle East as well.
The global demand for ramyeon as emergency food and a quick meal also surged with the pandemic as people stayed longer hours at home.
Total global sales of Korean instant noodles are much bigger than the export figures as Korean food companies sell ramyeon produced from their overseas factories as well.
“The export volume of ramyeon made in Korea is similar to the sales volume of ramyeon produced in our factories in China and the US,” said an official at Nongshim, Korea’s largest instant noodle and snack company.