Have ‘con­ve­nience noo­dles’ taken an in­con­ve­nient fall?

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

There is no need to cry over the fall­ing sales of in­stant noo­dles, for decades of ro­bust eco­nomic growth have made Chi­nese con­sumers wise enough to shift to healthy di­ets and life­styles.

A re­cent Bain & Com­pany and Kan­tar World­panel re­port shows an­nual sales of in­stant noo­dles in China dropped by 12.5 per­cent in 2015. Yet it is pre­ma­ture to con­clude that this is clear ev­i­dence of up­graded con­sump­tion in China, be­cause the down­ward pres­sure on eco­nomic growth and sky­rock­et­ing hous­ing prices in big cities are eat­ing into Chi­nese peo­ple’s in­comes.

A close look at the un­der­ly­ing causes of the de­cline in the con­sump­tion of an iconic fast food item may help pol­i­cy­mak­ers come to grips with im­mi­nent eco­nomic chal­lenges that they can­not af­ford to ig­nore. In a coun­try where peo­ple have long seen food as manna, the surg­ing pop­u­lar­ity of in­stant noo­dles since the early 1980s has made it one of the most telling foot­notes to China’s re­mark­able re­form and open­ing-up his­tory.

As hun­dreds of mil­lions of Chi­nese farm­ers left their homes in search of bet­ter prospects in cities and peo­ple across the so­cial di­vide seized ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to get rich, the time-sav­ing in­stant noo­dles, also called “con­ve­nience noo­dles”, more or less be­came the choice of al­most ev­ery one. At the height of their sales, Chi­nese con­sumed 48.38 bil­lion pack­ets of in­stant noo­dles in 2011. In other words, on av­er­age ev­ery one of the 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple in China con­sumed three pack­ets of in­stant noo­dles a month that year.

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