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Healthy cup noodles

February 11th, 2007 . by Matt

Healthier cup noodles have been launched in Korea following a trend towards health consciousness.

The Korean instant noodle industry is jumping on the “well-being” bandwagon, with two producers launching a healthier kind of Ramen on Thursday. The new product from market leader Nongshim contains no monosodium glutamate, or MSG, and unlike ordinary Ramen is made with un-fried noodles. Nongshim is confident that the new pot noodles will become the company’s leading product and revitalize congealing sales. Samyang, the second-ranked producer, also released a new MSG-free product, though the noodles are fried.

The stagnant Korean Ramen market, worth some W1.5 trillion (US$1=W935), is expected to get a boost from the new MSG-free, low-sodium and un-fried noodles.

Koreans’ average yearly instant noodle consumption in 2005 was 75 packs, the most in the world, according to the International Ramen Manufacturers Association. From humble beginnings in the 1960 with only W30 million, the market has grown exponentially. Shrink-wrapped Ramen accounted for the largest part of the total sales, or W1.05 billion a year, followed by instant cup Ramen and un-fried Ramen products which saw W415 billion and W30 billion in sales.

But the growth curve has slowed in recent years, and Ramen manufacturers are looking at trouble as more and more consumers worry about fat, sodium and other additives in instant noodles. Nongshim staff admit they had no choice but to sell more un-fried Ramen, which have 25 percent less calories than the fried variety, to meet consumer tastes.

Interestingly the article refers to cup noodles as ramen, not ramyun, the Korean pronunciation. I remember seeing non fried, no MSG ramen in Japan 7 years ago so I wonder if the Japanese products have ‘inspired‘ the Korean product. Usually they go all out and copy everything including the packaging, so if there are any readers in Japan that have found the inspiration for the product (if it was indeed inspired by a Japanese product), post the pictures here.

9 Responses to “Healthy cup noodles”

  1. comment number 1 by: MarkA

    Ramen is to ramyon as Pocky is to Pepero.

  2. comment number 2 by: AG

    Yay! I can log in again. Thanks Matt.

    I suppose it is better to call it a “healthier” noodle, as “healthy instant noodle” sounds like an oxymoron.

    If not frying the noodle cuts the calorie by 25%, the original fried noodle must be very greasy. In Japan’s case, non-fried noodles weren’t too much lower in calorie, but it’s concern was with the oxydized oil produced as the product gets older.

    It takes longer to manufacture non-fried noodles, and, more importantly, it takes longer to cook the noodle. Together with the no-MSG and lower sodium, I am interested in how well these new products are accepted by Korean people.

    Oh, speaking of “inspiration,” I’ve been wanting to mention you the below article for one of your old post.(https://www.occidentalism.org/?p=206)


  3. comment number 3 by: kteen

    ‘…I wonder if the Japanese products have ‘inspired‘ the Korean product’

    are you trying to say that every doctor in the world was ‘inspired’ to use disposable needles?

  4. comment number 4 by: shadkt

    Japan has been having non-fried instant ramen for more than or close to a decade now.
    It’s way past the point of inspire as to be obvious.

  5. comment number 5 by: ponta

    I am not sure if the Japanese product “inspired” the Korean product. But it seems there are ヘルシーラーメン/“healthy Ramen” and “vegetarian Ramen” in Japan.

  6. comment number 6 by: empraptor

    I’ve been having non-fried ramen from Korea for a few years now. Dunno about MSG.

  7. […] Matt from Occidentalism blogs about a newly launched cup noodle in South Korea: MSG-free, low-sodium and un-fried noodles. Oiwan Lam […]

  8. comment number 8 by: crypticlife


    I understand your sentiment, but wonder if your interpretation is off and your example poor.

    “are you trying to say that every doctor in the world was ‘inspired’ to use disposable needles? ”

    I would hope a successful and prudent medical practice would be outright copied by every doctor in the world very quickly after being introduced!

    However, Matt means something a tad different from “inspired”. Lots and lots of products all over the world are inspired by other products. Bottled water companies worldwide were “inspired” by Perrier. Matt means outright copying in terms of marketing strategy, packaging, product naming, etc. If a Korean ramyun noodle company saw that healthy noodles were selling well in Japan, and decided to develop and market their own brand of healthy noodles, that’s simply competition. Presumably they’d try to improve profits by giving their product some advantage, which would lead to improvements in the product. When Matt says “inspired”, he means copied. Graphics, fonts, packaging — presumably in an attempt to deceive people into thinking they’re purchasing a different companies’ product and hence take profits from that company.

  9. comment number 9 by: siree

    Hi there! I’d like to recommend to you our functional instant noodles – a healthier option for those who love to eat instant noodles but just wish they weren’t so darn unhealthy! Our instant noodles are fried in rice bran oil (one of the healthiest oils out there), have no MSG, lower sodium, no trans-fat. This line of functional instant noodles are totally new. They’re due to launch here in Thailand next month. I’d love to hear some comments about what you think about our concept! Thanks!