Beyond the squid game: Indian taste seekers are warming up to K-noodles
- There is an increased demand for Korean noodles and more sellers are joining the platform.
- India’s South Korean ramen imports rose from ₹10.44 crore in 2020 to ₹30.63 crore in 2021.
- The surging demand is mainly from Tier 1&2 cities.
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Korean ramen is also the latest viral food on Instagram. Influencers are posting reels on social media, reviewing them and jumping on the hallyu which means the Korean wave. GenZs and Millennials cannot get enough of these K-noodles, just like their love for K-dramas and K-pop.
“Korean noodles have grown more than the instant noodles category. Most of the demand is coming from the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities,” said Seshu Kumar Tirumala, national head-buying and merchandising at Bigbasket. However, it is to be noted that Korean instant noodles have a very low base in India, with Nestle’s Maggi and ITC’s Yippee dominating the Indian instant noodles market.
However, imports of noodles are growing slowly but steadily. India’s South Korean ramen imports rose from ₹10.44 crore in 2020 to ₹30.63 crore in 2021, according to an Economic Times report.
“Korean noodles have seen a growth of 140% over the last year in the Indian market and ramen noodles are contributing to 90% of the overall category on Bigbasket,” said Tirumala.
Most of the demand for these niche products seems to be coming from quick commerce players or grocery delivery services as opposed to the traditional kiranas. Apart from quick commerce, specialised K-stores like Seelamart in Delhi, and Korean online retailer korikart.com cater to the buyers in the segment.
“Nongshim, Paldo and Samyang are the top Korean ramen sellers in the Indian market,” said Akhil Jetly, assistant manager at Seelamart.
“Just a year ago, there was hardly any interest in this category but now, the business has been growing about 20% month-on-month. More sellers are joining the platform, and since the market has turned competitive, prices are low,” said Blinkit’s spokesperson.
Korean noodles however are pricier than their Indian counterparts – in some cases by as much as 10 times. The cheapest Korean noodles pack costs around ₹50, and goes as high as ₹200. Most of them are in the ₹100-150 range, according to data from wholesalers and retailers.
Yet, that hasn’t prevented those who have acquired the taste of K-noodles from digging in and expanding their palate.
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