Red-broth ramyeon making comeback
By Lee Hyo-sik
Spicy, red-soup ramyeon is making a strong comeback after suffering a temporary setback over the past year, as consumers now increasingly turn away from white-broth instant noodles.
Sales of Kkokkomyeon by Paldo and other white-soup ramyeon have fallen sharply over the past few months, while Shin ramyeon manufactured by Nongshim and other red-broth noodles have flown off the shelves.
This indicates that Koreans are not yet ready to give up their love affair with red-soup ramyeon. In 2011, Paldo introduced Kkokkomyeon, based on a chicken broth, kicking off a nationwide fad for white-soup ramyeon.
Nongshim, Samyang and other ramyeon makers quickly jumped on the bandwagon, launching their own white-broth instant noodles in a bid to capitalize on the change in consumer appetites.
However, the fad faded fast and now the market trend favors the old paradigm that ramyeon has to be based on a red spicy soup.
This change has and will largely benefit Nongshim, the country’s leading instant noodle maker. The company has maintained its market dominance for years, thanks to its flagship Shin ramyeon, which means very spicy, and other red-broth offerings.
According to market researcher AC Nielsen, combined sales of three white-broth instant noodles _ Paldo’s Kkokkomyeon, Samyang’s Nagasaki Jjamppong and Ottogi’s Gismyeon _ stood at 11.5 billion won in April, down sharply from 30 billion won in December last year.
Paldo earned 3 billion won in April, down from 12.2 billion won in December, with its market share falling sharply to 2.2 percent from 10.5 percent.
Similarly, sales of Nagasaki Jjamppong plunged to 6.4 billion won from 12 billion won during the four-month period. Its market share dropped 5.4 percent from 10 percent.
``White-broth instant noodles were extremely popular when first introduced last year. But their popularity has waned in recent months,’’ a Samyang official said.
He said ramyeon is no exception to the rapidly changing consumer preference. ``But it is too early to paint a bleak outlook for white-broth noodles because it is always possible for them to make a comeback.’’
Taking advantage of the declining popularity of white-broth noodles, ramyeon manufacturers launched aggressive marketing campaigns for their traditional products in a bid to grasp sales opportunities.
In April, Nongshim launched a new red-soup ramyeon called Jinjja Jinjja, which means ``really really’’ in English.
The company said Jinjja Jinjja’s broth is made by boiling pig bones for hours. Peanuts, black beans and other healthy ingredients are then added. The noodles taste spicy because the wheat flour from which they are made is mixed with red pepper power.
The firm said the consumer frenzy over white-broth instant noodles died down as many consumers returned to the red soup-based ramyeon.
``We always believed that the popularity of white-broth ramyeon was temporary. We always expected Korean customers would return to the spicy red-broth instant noodles,’’ a Nongshim spokesman said. ``We are 100 percent positive that ramyeon based in a red-chili soup will continue to be the most popular with consumers. Jinjja Jinjja will be a global hit.’’
Paldo has also introduced a new garlic-based spicy ramyeon, Namja Ramyeon, which means instant noodles for men.
``Since its launch in March, over six million have been sold each month. We expect sales of Namja Ramyeon, which currently ranks No. 9, will continue to grow at a fast pace for the foreseeable future,’’ it said.
Samyang has also launched Don Ramyeon, which means instant pork noodles. Its broth is made from pig bones, seasoned with baked garlic.