Cost-of-living crisis fuels global appetite for instant ramen

Middle-class consumers around the world – including in countries with no tradition of eating noodles – are turning to instant ramen in droves

TOKYO, Nov 21 (The Guardian) - Spicy tomato, seafood, teriyaki chicken, Korean barbecue, cheese curry. Or for those with a gargantuan appetite, an “American breakfast” – all served in a pot along with a block of air-dried noodles.

When Momofuku Ando invented insutanto ramen in his back yard shed in Osaka 65 years ago, he could have had little inkling that the simple, starchy convenience food would become a global food staple.

Ando, who died in 2007 aged 96, lived long enough to see the firm he founded, Nissin Foods, make successful forays into the international market with versions that cater to people with religion-based dietary requirements and incorporate local tastes.

Following the global appetite for regular ramen – seen in the spread of famous Japanese chains to the streets of New York and London, and the long queues of tourists outside shops in Tokyo – its pre-packaged cousin is now at the forefront of a second ramen boom.

In 2022, consumers in more than 50 countries slurped their way through a record 121.2bn servings of instant noodles, according to the Osaka-based World Instant Noodles Association. ...continue reading