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Asia Minute: Ramen prices are rising across the Asia-Pacific

Japan Thinking out of the Box instant noodles
John Leicester/AP
In this frame from video, packets of instant noodles sit on display in the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama, Japan, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Leicester)

Food inflation is hitting the prices of everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to meat. It’s also affecting the price of instant noodles — especially in the Asia Pacific.

The price of ramen is making headlines this month from South Korea to Thailand.

Last week, a leading Korean noodle maker announced it was raising its prices on instant noodles by more than 11%.

Nongshim blames rising wheat prices — sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This is a big story in South Korea — which until recently held the number one spot in the world in per capita consumption of instant noodles.

Just last month, Vietnam took over the top ranking — based on sales figures for 2021 — as reported by the World Instant Noodles Association.

That’s in part because of the efforts of South Korea’s top four noodle makers — who have made Vietnam a priority export market — complete with local factories.

Elsewhere in the corporate world of ramen, Thailand’s Commerce Ministry has allowed three domestic companies to raise their prices — by about 16% — or one baht.

The companies had asked the government for permission to raise prices by twice that amount, but the government said that would unfairly hit low-income earners.

As for those figures on per capita ramen consumption, in Vietnam, it adds up to 87 servings of instant noodles a year — compared to 73 annual servings in South Korea.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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