Korean ramyeon turns 60 with anticipated $1 bn in exports

2023.09.15 11:36:01 | 2023.09.15 13:05:30

Samyang Roundsquare Vice Chairman Kim Jung-soo delivers a keynote speech at an event celebrating Samyang Ramen’s 60th anniversary on Sep. 14. [Courtesy of Samyang Roundsquare]이미지 확대

Samyang Roundsquare Vice Chairman Kim Jung-soo delivers a keynote speech at an event celebrating Samyang Ramen’s 60th anniversary on Sep. 14. [Courtesy of Samyang Roundsquare]

Korean instant noodles, or ramyeon, celebrates its 60th birthday on September 15. Over the course of six decades, what was once merely a carbo-packed meal substitute for the hungry masses has evolved into a household staple and a popular supermarket item overseas.

According to industry sources on Friday, the first Korean ramyeon was introduced to the market on September 15, 1963, under the name Samyang Ramen. It is said that Samyang Foods Co.’s founder and Honorary Chairman, the late Chun Joong-yoon, decided to develop an instant noodles product after witnessing people lining up to eat porridge in Namdaemun Market in 1961, while the peninsula was still reeling from the aftermath of the Korean War.

The late Chun acquired instant noodle technology from the Japanese company Myojo Foods Co. in 1963 and brought the instant noodle machines to Korea, leading to the birth of Samyang Ramen on September 15, 1963.

Ramyeon gradually integrated into the day-to-day lives of the Korean people following a government policy in 1966 that encouraged flour consumption due to insufficient rice production.

The industry thrived in the 1980s as Korea’s economy grew and the nation hosted significant global events, including the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Entering the new millennium, the industry underwent upgrades to introduce a wider variety of noodles, while retailers entered the market with their own noodle products.

More recently, Korean ramyeon has gained global recognition alongside the popularity of Korean pop culture. Korean instant noodle exports have seen continuous growth since 2015, hitting $770 million in annual exports in 2022. This year, within the first seven months, noodle exports hit a record high of $520 million, and are likely to exceed $1 billion annually.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of Samyang Ramen’s release, Samyang Food launched a renewed version of the noodles this month, featuring an enhanced broth and a return to the square noodle shape reminiscent of the original release.

Samyang Food Group also underwent a name change to Samyang Roundsquare and announced four focal areas for the group’s new vision, including customized food development, expanding the plant-based protein business, developing a food culture content platform and global commerce, and enhancing carbon reduction capabilities.

“In response to the demand of the times for tastier, more enjoyable, and healthier food, we will lead change by offering a new paradigm in the food business,” Vice Chairman Kim Jung-soo said during an event celebrating Samyang Ramen’s 60th anniversary on Thursday.

By Pulse

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