Food Culture: Explaining Indonesians' Huge Appetite for Instant Noodles
Instant noodles are very popular in Indonesia. Those who have visited a supermarket or minimarket in Indonesia must have come across a relatively big-sized section that is devoted to all sorts of instant noodle products. Those who have ever stood in line to pay at the local Indonesian supermarket may have noticed that a couple of instant noodle packages tend to be among the items purchased by customers. And those who ever watched local television may have noticed that there are a lot of instant noodle commercials on Indonesian TV.
Since its introduction to the Indonesian market around 50 years ago, instant noodles have become part of the Indonesian diet. Originally it was primarily known as a snack. For example when hungry late at night or when coming home after a tiring day, Indonesians opened and prepared an instant noodle package. However, nowadays instant noodles are increasingly used to replace lunch or dinner. Not seldom, people add some ingredients such as boiled eggs, vegetables and meatballs to their instant noodles to make it a more complete meal.
In fact, it is not rare for Indonesians to take a supply of instant noodle packages with them in their suitcases (as well as an electric kettle) when going on holiday abroad, especially when they visit Western countries where it may be difficult to find local food that meets their needs. For some the Indonesian instant noodle provides certainty that they can consume halal food (lawful in traditional Islamic law) abroad (the instant noodles that are produced by the biggest Indonesian manufacturers, such as Indomie and Mie Sedaap, are halal-certified).
It is of course not really necessary to bring instant noodles from Indonesia when going abroad. Indonesia’s biggest instant noodle manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur currently exports its instant noodles (with the Indomie brand) to around 80 countries. However, the price is obviously much higher abroad, while the selection of flavors is very limited.
Indonesia’s Big Instant Noodles Market
Based on data from Euromonitor, consumption of instant noodles has risen in Indonesia in recent years. Indonesia’s per capita instant noodle consumption stood at 5.2 kilograms in 2017, up from 4.7 kilograms in 2011. Only Japan tops Indonesia in terms of per capita instant noodles consumption. Japan’s population consumes 8.9 kilograms of instant noodles per year. The difference is that consumption of noodles is part of the food culture in Japan, while in Indonesia consumption of rice remains, by far, the most important item in the local food culture.
Read the full article in the September 2018 edition of our monthly research report. You can purchase this report by sending an email to email@example.com or a WhatsApp message to the following number: +6287884106944
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