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Premium Noodles Prove an Instant Success with Taiwanese Consumers

Despite costing twice as much as rival brands, a new high-end instant beef noodle dish has proved highly popular.

Photo: Can high-end instant beef noodles out-taste the real thing? (Shutterstock.com)
Can high-end instant beef noodles out-taste the real thing?
Photo: Can high-end instant beef noodles out-taste the real thing? (Shutterstock.com)
Can high-end instant beef noodles out-taste the real thing?

Instant noodles have long been popular in Taiwan, a meal prized both for its convenience and low cost. More recently, however, a premium version of the snack has hit the shelves, proving surprisingly popular despite its substantially higher price tag. This has led some in the industry to believe that developing a range of upmarket instant noodles may offer a significant new business opportunity for food producers.

Even before the introduction of the premium variety, however, the price of instant noodles in Taiwan had been rising over recent years. According to figures from local supermarkets, the more expensive instant noodle brands – those with a price tag of NT$100 (US$3.12) or more – have enjoyed impressive growth of late, with 2015 sales up 100% year-on-year.

Traditionally, it has been the imported noodle ranges that have commanded the highest price tags. The most popular varieties have included Singapore's Laksa La Mian (Ramen) (NT$87) and Japan's Instant Ichiran Ramen (NT$157).

Recently, however, one of Taiwan's domestic noodle producers launched a noodle brand that is almost double the price of even the high-end imported varieties. Marketed as Man Han Imperial Grade Beef Noodles, the range had a recommended retail price of NT$248 per serving. Only 999 units were produced and these were solely available from one supermarket in the Taipei 101 Mall.

Promoted largely by word of mouth, anticipation was high even before the noodles hit the supermarket's shelves. On the day of the launch, queues formed outside the supermarket in question, with consumers keen to sample these premium noodles.

The product's manufacturer has justified the high price of the noodles on the grounds of the quality of its ingredients. Unlike the majority of other such products, Man Han is made using non-fried noodles, full-sized beef slices and non-dehydrated spring onions and pickled cabbage. It is also said to have a high-quality soup base, produced through a stewing process similar to that used by many noodle houses. In total, the manufacturer claims to have spent 20,000 hours developing the product, with the finished version said to offer an authentic beef noodle experience in terms of both presentation and taste.

Its NT$248 price tag sees the product cost almost three times as much as the standard take-away lunchbox. In light of this, it is expected that these premium noodles will only appeal to a relatively small number of affluent consumers. Despite this, the manufacturer is confident that its new range will prove highly successful, paving the way for other high-end instant noodle products.

Tammy Hsieh, Taiwan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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