South Korean ramen exports hit record high amid K-culture boom

South Korea's instant noodles are exported to a total of 128 countries around the world, with China, the US and Japan being the largest importers. - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS via The Straits Times/ANN

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN): South Korea’s exports of instant noodles, or ramen, are continuing its winning streak, hitting the 1 trillion won (S$1.04 billion) mark for the first time in 2023.

Ramen exports reached US$785.25 million (S$1.05 billion) in the January to October period in 2023, a 24.7 per cent surge from the same period in 2022, according to estimates by the Korea Customs Service on Nov 20.

The figure has already exceeded 2022’s total exports of US$765.41 million.

Ramen exports are expected to renew its record figure for the ninth consecutive year since 2015.

In terms of export volume, a total of 201,363 metric tonnes were exported during the same period, up 13.9 per cent increase from a year ago. The export volume is also likely to post a record-high figure for the whole year.

Industry watchers say the nation’s total ramen sales, including exports and local productions, are highly likely to exceed 2 trillion won, considering several South Korean firms are producing ramen at their overseas plants to better meet regional demand.

Nongshim, the nation’s largest maker and exporter of ramen, produces ramen at its US and Chinese plants, whose total sales reached a combined 90 million won in 2022.

The company saw more than half of its operating profits come from its US subsidiary in the first quarter of 2023.

During the first three months of 2023, the local unit posted 18 billion won in operating profits, a whopping 604.7 per cent jump from a year ago.

Samyang Foods, another leading ramen seller in South Korea, said it saw its exports rise by 56 per cent to 605 billion won in 2022.

The firm’s global sales, which made up 7.1 per cent of the company’s total sales as of 2011, also soared to take up some 66.6 per cent of the firm’s total sales, as of 2023.

The upbeat figures are largely being driven by the growing popularity of South Korean dramas and movies that has raised the profile of South Korean ramen, and other Korean food, globally.

Ramen is exported to a total of 128 countries around the world, with China, the US and Japan being the largest importers.

In the January to October period, China topped the imports with the highest amount of US$174.45 million, followed by the US (US$107 million), Japan (US$48.66 million), the Netherlands (US$48.64 million), Malaysia (US$39.67 million) and the Philippines (US$30.9 million).

Australia (US$30.16 million), Thailand (US$30.07 million), the UK (US$29.8 million) and Taiwan (US$28.13 million) were also included in the top 10 destinations for South Korean ramen.

Among Middle Eastern nations, the United Arab Emirates ranked 15th with US$12.24 million in exports, while Saudi Arabia ranked 18th with US$8.99 million. - THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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South Korea , Ramen Exports , Record High


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