China’s appetite for instant noodles is dwindling


Fewer Chinese people are eating instant noodles compared with three years ago, but China still topped the list of countries with the biggest consumption of the popular snack in 2016, according to data estimated by the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA).

Based on numbers provided by WINA, the Beijing News created an infographic (in Chinese) to show how China’s desire for instant noodles faded. Globally, in 2016, a total of 97.5 billion servings of instant noodles were consumed. China accounted for nearly 40 percent. Indonesia, whose people ate 13 billion servings, was not even a close second to China on the list of countries.

However, China’s consumption of instant noodles has actually decreased by almost 20 percent in the past few years. In 2013, China consumed 46.2 billion servings, and 2016 marked the fourth consecutive year of decline, with 38.5 billion servings. Meanwhile, on the chart of per capita consumption, Korea claimed the first place with 76.1 servings per year for 2016, whereas Chinese people, on average, only ate 27.7 servings.

The shrinking demand for instant noodles can be attributed to several factors. As the Strait Times rightly pointed out, the rise of the Chinese instant noodles market paralleled “an economic boom that was fueled by the migration of low-cost workers from the countryside.” But since the country’s economy slowed, the migrant population has witnessed a remarkable decline. In addition, the growing health-conscious middle class tends to choose food that is more nutritious and healthier than instant noodles.

Most importantly, the convenience of instant noodles, their greatest appeal, has been largely eroded by the boom of the online food delivery industry.