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Beyond the Squid Game: Indian Flavor Seekers Warm Up for K Noodles

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  • There is an increasing demand for Korean noodles and more sellers are joining the platform.
  • India’s South Korean ramen imports increased from 10.44 crore in 2020 to ₹30.63 crore in 2021.
  • The increasing demand comes mainly from Tier 1&2 cities.

There’s something new on the board for instant noodles lovers in India – ramen from Korea. Long accustomed to the comfort of Maggi and Yippee, Indian consumers are warming up to the spicier noodles offered by Korean brands such as Nongshim, Samyang, paldo and more as the Korean wave sweeps across the nation.

Korean ramen is also the latest viral food on Instagram. Influencers post roles on social media, rate them and jump on the
hallyu what the korean wave means. GenZs and Millennials can’t get enough of these K-noodles, as can their love of K-dramas and K-pop.

“Korean noodles have grown more than the instant noodle category. Most of the demand comes from the Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities,” said Seshu Kumar Tirumala, head of purchasing and merchandising at Bigbasket. However, it should be noted that Korean instant noodles have a very low base in India, with Nestlé’s Maggi and ITC’s Yippee dominating the Indian instant noodle market.

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However, noodle imports are growing slowly but steadily. India’s South Korean ramen imports rose from 10.44 crore in 2020 to ₹30.63 crore in 2021, according to an Economic Times
report.

“Korean noodles have seen a 140% growth in the Indian market in the past year and ramen noodles account for 90% of the total category on Bigbasket,” said Tirumala.

Most of the demand for these niche products seems to come from fast trading players or grocery delivery services, as opposed to the traditional
kiranas. Aside from quick trading, specialty K stores such as Seelamart in Delhi and Korean online retailer korikart.com target the buyers in the segment.

“Nongshim, Paldo and Samyang are the largest Korean ramen sellers in the Indian market,” said Akhil Jetly, assistant manager at Seelamart.

A Blinkit According to a spokesperson, there is an increased demand for world cuisine in general and Korean noodles in particular.

“A year ago there was hardly any interest in this category, but now the company is growing by about 20% per month. More sellers are joining the platform and as the market has become competitive, prices are low,” said Blinkit’s spokesperson.

However, Korean noodles are more expensive than their Indian counterparts – as much as 10 times in some cases. The cheapest Korean noodle pack costs about 50 and goes up to ₹200. Most are between €100 and 150, according to data from wholesalers and retailers.

Still, that hasn’t stopped those who got the taste of K noodles from digging in and expanding their taste buds.

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