Not just a 2-minute snack stop: Indians are developing a taste for packaged Korean foods for the long haul

Trends show that Indians are more willing than ever to experiment with Korean food, especially ramen or instant noodles
Last Updated 12 September 2021, 10:23 IST

India has welcomed with open arms all aspects of Korean culture for years, with consumer brands like Samsung and LG being household favourites across the country and a huge and ever-growing fan base of Korean dramas and K-pop, cosmetics and even alcohol. Trends suggest that India’s next Korean obsession will be its packaged foods.

According to a report by The Economic Times, India’s import of South Korean ramen or instant noodles saw a steep rise from Rs 10.44 crore in FY20 increasing nearly threefold to Rs 30.63 crore in FY21, registering an over 150 per cent increase.

This rise is majorly driven by Indian customers wanting to experiment with Korean dishes in their homes, as opposed to earlier when the imports were driven by the significant Korean diaspora India houses.

Domestic companies that distribute Korean packaged products in India are seizing their chance in this rally, targeting Indian customers. Udit Jain of Rama Vision Ltd, distributor of Nongshim Co Ltd, the largest South Korean snacks company, told the publication it discontinued some products within a year in 2014 due to muted demand and the Maggi controversy at the time. Now, despite the pandemic, the products are seeing interest. Other companies are also eyeing the Korean food trends to leverage the popularity, and are planning to introduce Korean snacks, like Indo Nissin, the Indian arm of a Japanese company that sells the renowned Top Ramen noodles.

Korean noodles are also available easily on e-commerce platforms. Restaurants specialising in Korean food have also come up in Bengaluru and Gurugram. Gourmet Korean products have also attracted customers and they are available online as well as in supermarket chains like Foodhall and Nature’s Basket.

A major chunk of these customers are still concentrated in the urban centres of the country and many Indians are still avoiding these foods as it contains meat, but the Northeast of India has been a longtime fan of Korean packaged foods.

According to Euromonitor, the market for Korean packaged food was valued around Rs 18,000 crore in 2020 and is expected to grow about 16 per cent this year. Industry experts predict that Korean food items will be big in the coming five years.

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(Published 12 September 2021, 09:50 IST)

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