KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — Export of South Korea's instant noodles or ramen has hit the 1 trillion won (RM3.6 billion) mark for the first time this year.
Exports reached US$785.25 million (RM3.7 billion) from January to October, up 24.7 per cent during the same period last year, reported The Korea Herald.
The figure exceeds 2022’s total exports of US$765.41 million (RM3.6 billion) according to data the from the Korea Customs Service.
Exports of ramen has been on the uptick for the past nine years since 2015.
In terms of export volume, a total of 201,363 metric tonnes of ramen were exported during the same period, or an increase of 13.9 per cent during the same period last year.
Industry watchers say the nation’s total ramen sales, including exports and local productions, are likely to exceed 2 trillion won (RM7.2 billion), considering there are several companies producing ramen at their overseas plants to meet regional demand.
One of them, Nongshim, which is South Korea's largest maker and exporter of ramen, produces ramen at its US and Chinese plants, and its total sales reached 90 billion won (RM324.9 million) last year.
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 this year, the local unit posted 18 billion won (RM65 million) in operating profits, a whopping 604.7 per cent jump from a year ago.
Samyang Foods, another leading ramen seller in South Korea, said its exports rose by 56 per cent to 605 billion won (RM2.2 billion) 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 driven by the growing popularity of K-Dramas and movies that have 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 while Malaysia imports US$39.67 million (RM184.4 million) of ramen.