To make it easy to buy and cheap, instant noodles have long been a food in China the ultimate in comfort.
It was a snack for students who have a meal on the train, or just the go-to choice for hungry workers, more than 46,2 billion packages were sold in China and Hong Kong in the year 2013.
But by 2016, the sales had dropped to 38.5 billion packages, according to the World Instant noodle Association. And let’s face it, you would know.
This is a decline of almost 17%.
Given most of the other instant-noodle-markets remained relatively stable in recent years (with the notable exception of India, where the recall of Maggi noodles has led to a significant decline in 2015) – it is an unusual pattern.
So, what is it? Also here are some theories that suggest that instant-could be pasta, is in many ways a large indicator of how China is changing.You might also be interested in:
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Ambition: customers want better food
The recipe for instant noodles is pretty straight forward: Just add boiling water, a bag of sauce, and some small packages of dried vegetables and meat.
As appetizing as that sounds, is a factor for the break-in could well be that some Chinese consumers are upping their expectations in the Ess Department.
“The drop in instant-noodle sales shows a change in China’s consumption patterns,” said Zhao Ping, the Academy, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade,” he told China Daily.
“Consumers are more interested in the quality of life, than just fill their bellies these days.”
Population: Rural workers go home
One of the major consumers of instant noodles – the theory goes – are migrant workers. And if you think about it, it makes sense. You are away from home, they often live in cramped conditions with limited cooking facilities and keen to save as much money as you can to send them back to their families.
By 2014, the number of rural Chinese had moved to the cities were on the rise.
But this trend has now reversed for two consecutive years (and is expected to continue to do so, if in 2017, the data comes from).
In the past year, 1.7 million migrant workers in cities, lived as in the year of 2015, which could be quite plausible, and the food in noodle sales.
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Traveling in China 20 years ago, I filled my stomach (and time) by eating pot after pot with instant noodles, while cross-country train rides that sometimes lasted three days or more.
More than once, the combination of the car jolting and General clumsiness sent splashes of hot, spicy noodle liquid in my eye. The one that hurts.
But Chinese trains and train stations have improved. Travel will be faster, and the choice of food is far more international – meaning noodle-turnover on the rail like that.
And then there is the boom in air travel as a middle-class Chinese will spend billions to fly on national and international holidays, instead of with trains.
Almost 500 million national and international trips were taken in the year 2016, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
But since a third of all flights were delayed last year (according to industry body IATA), a lot of passengers waiting, so maybe the airports are a good place to boost noodle sales.Smartphones and the internet: It is another form of “quick food”
Around 730 million people in China now have access to the internet in accordance with the information provided by the government. And over 95% of respondents connect with smartphones.
And apps, offer food delivery service to your home, office or wherever you like a real boom-industry.
Their menus are certainly more expensive than a pot of instant noodles. But these meals can always be inexpensive. And probably tasty. Optimism
But the global context, China is still by far the largest market for instant noodles as this chart shows:
Almost three times as many packages were sold, in the year 2016, as the nearest rival Indonesia.
In fact, China ‘ s total, the equivalent of Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, India, the USA, South Korea, and the Philippines was about.
And that means that the global pasta manufacturers are unlikely to move away from the Chinese market.
Japan’s instant noodle business to Nissin Foods, for example, is planning an IPO in Hong Kong. It hopes to raise about $145 million (Â£108m).
It is rare that a Japanese company to list in Hong Kong, but Nissin is talking up its prospects in China, where it is already the fifth-largest brand.
“Some consumers stopped pasta eating instant, but the majority of consumers want to said to increase the quality (of food that you consume),” chief executive Saidi want Ando CNBC last week.
“We supply products with high quality, we have more opportunities for our business.”