The Chinese are buying less and less instant noodles every year. You would think that such is not big news, but if you know that the Chinese used to eat some 50 billion packs of instant noodles per year, you realize this is a market worth tracking. Many market analysts say that the shift from instant noodles to healthier food is a sign the Chinese economy is maturing.
Over the past four years, the drop has become quite significant. China and Hong Kong ate 46.2 billion packets in 2013. By 2016 that had dropped by about 8 billion packets to 38.5 billion. And more than one major manufacturer has experienced a drop in profit over 25%.
The key contributor is the rise of rural China. An economics professor at Tongji University, Mr. Zhang Xin, explains sales have plunged because far fewer low-paid migrants from rural China were moving to or living in cities, where they are one of the biggest consumers of instant noodles.
From 2010 to 2016, the growth in migrant workers dropped off significantly to 0.5% from 5.2%.
Zhao Ping of the Academy of International Trade noted that consumers are looking for better food in general: "The decline of instant noodle sales shows a shift in China's consumption patterns."
"Consumers are more interested in life quality than just filling their bellies these days."
China is still the biggest consumer of instant noodles in Asia though, by a very far margin.
Japan's instant noodle business Nissin Foods is about to launch in Hong Kong, hoping to lure Chinese customers with their quality noodles. CEO Mr chief Kiyotaka Ando said: "Some consumers stopped consuming instant noodles, but most consumers want to increase the quality of food they consume."
"We can supply high-quality products, so we have more possibility to develop our business."