While the noodles sector as a whole is struggling to maintain sales, wet noodles, including straight to wok and microwaveable, are proving a success story.
The wet noodles sector is still relatively small, accounting for less than 20% of the market, but this is where growth is really being driven. Sales of the versatile snack are growing strongly at more than 34% year-on-year [ACNielsen MAT June 11, 2005].
According to Westmill Foods, wet noodles are popular with consumers because the products really deliver on convenience.
“The growth in wet noodles is driven by continued interest in quick and easy solutions to meal preparation, as we have seen is the case in the adjacent rice category with the development of the microwave rice sector,” says Westmill project manager Reena Chandarang.
Westmill Foods identified the opportunity to increase convenience and simplify cooking last year with the launch of its premium microwaveable noodles - Ken Hom Egg Noodles. Amoy dominates the wet
noodles market, with more than 90% share, and is growing 29% year-on-year.
However, Ken Hom, with only one variant, is growing ahead of the market, up 69% year-on-year [ACNielsen MAT to June 11, 2005].
Blue Dragon has two variants of straight-to-wok noodles, which it says are both performing well.
And the company says there is still great growth potential for wet noodles, with household penetration levels still low at 7% [ACNielsen Scantrack Mat May 14, 2005]. “The sub-category of wet noodles will continue to attract new consumers,” says Blue Dragon trade marketing controller Tracy Hughes.
“However, the brands then need to work hard to encourage these new consumers to cross- purchase across other sub-categories.”
While microwaveable noodles have experienced success on the back of the nation’s hunger for quick meal solutions, straight-to- wok noodles are benefiting from being perceived as a healthier option with considerable growth potential as a convenient yet healthy carbohydrate base for a meal.
When it comes to straight- to-wok noodles against microwaveable, the latter is too new to the market to make a fair comparison.
“Microwaveable noodles are a much more recent development than straight-to-wok and so it is hard to judge popularity,” says Hughes.
The Blue Dragon microwaveable noodle range, including egg noodles and wheat noodles, hit shelves in January this year.