Tasty transformation: Thai instant noodles ride K-pop and J-pop wave

Photo: Bangkok Post

Thai Instant noodles, a staple in many households and offices, have evolved significantly in recent years, influenced by the growing popularity of Korean and Japanese pop culture in Thailand. As a result, manufacturers are diversifying their offerings, serving freshly prepared instant noodle dishes in their restaurants, petrol stations, and luxury retail complexes in Bangkok.

The global demand for instant noodles reached 121 billion packets last year, according to the World Instant Noodles Association, with Thailand consuming 3.87 billion packets annually, placing it ninth on the global scale.

Given the regulatory control of the Commerce Ministry, increasing prices for instant noodles is a challenge for manufacturers. To combat this, companies have adopted various strategies, including launching new value-added and innovative products for the premium market, diversifying their product portfolios to include items such as seasonings and dried chilli, and expanding their operations internationally.

Wai Wai and Mama, leading instant Thai noodle brands, have ventured into the restaurant business in response to the pandemic. They cater to lifestyle-conscious customers who seek convenience and comfort. These restaurants offer a variety of dishes based on their respective instant noodle brands, prepared by skilled chefs.

The trend has extended to the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, which has introduced special kiosks in select branches for customers to enjoy freshly cooked Korean instant noodles.

Certain high-end retail stores in central Bangkok are also contemplating the launch of permanent instant noodle shops.

Thai instant noodles expansion

Veera Napapruksachart, assistant managing director of Thai Preserved Food Factory Co, shared that the company opened its first Quick Terrace restaurant in front of the Wai Wai factory in Omyai, Nakhon Pathom, nine years ago. Now, there are five Quick Terrace restaurants, most strategically placed at PTT petrol stations for high customer traffic.

The company aims to extend the Quick Terrace concept to more locations across the country in 2024 and 2025 and expand the brand through franchising next year.

Pun Paniangvait, general manager of Thai President Foods, revealed that the company re-entered the restaurant business two years ago by establishing Mama Station shops in Bangkok. They also formed another joint venture to open Craze Mama shops at Terminal 21 and ICONSIAM malls, primarily targeting Chinese customers.

Meanwhile, Chinanun Boonsiriya, marketing manager of Wan Thai Foods Industry Co Ltd, producer of Yum Yum instant noodles, stated that while the Thai instant noodles market has been growing steadily, the expansion into the restaurant business is not in their immediate plans. Instead, they are focusing on expanding their international presence and diversifying their product line reported Bangkok Post.

The Thai instant noodle market has significantly transformed in recent years, driven by cultural influences and the need to adapt to changing consumer behaviours and market trends. This has led to the evolution of the product from a simple household staple to a diverse and innovative dish served in restaurants, petrol stations, and retail complexes.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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