Nissin sales jump 22% as premium ramen drives growth

Dive Brief:

  • Nissin Foods reported a 22.2% jump in year-over-year sales, which the maker of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles attributed to its premium and spicy offerings.
  • Net sales of Nissin’s premium ramen rose 32% thanks to products such as Cup Noodles Stir Fry Rice With Noodles and Hot & Spicy Fire Wok. The company said it has an 82.3% share of the premium ramen space.
  • Nissin aims to leverage growing consumer demand for quick meal solutions like ramen as competition grows from better-for-you upstarts entering the space.

Dive Insight:

Ramen has benefited from a pandemic-driven sales spike as consumers stocked up on the instant noodles and have continued to buy into the convenient meal it offers. Fortune Business Insights projects that instant noodles will see a global compound annual growth rate of nearly 6% from 2022 through 2029.

As the largest ramen brand in the U.S., Nissin has reaped the greatest share of the rewards, surpassing 1.48 billion ramen servings sold in 2021, it said. While the company is widely familiar to consumers and college students thanks to its standard ramen products, it sees its premium offerings as a gateway to a new level of success.

Nissin Foods USA President and CEO Michael Price said that innovation has been critical to the company’s high sales despite supply chain roadblocks over the past few years.

“We continue to see demand growth across a broader consumer segment, which requires further diversification of our offerings and a strategic focus on premium, game-changing products and expansion into new categories,” Price said in a statement.

Nissin has responded to changing tastes among younger consumers who are looking for variety. In 2021, the company launched its first limited edition flavor for Cup Noodles, Pumpkin Spice, citing the flavor’s popularity with Gen Z. Nissin also entered the rice category with Cup Noodles Stir Fry Rice with Noodles and capitalized on spicy trends with Hot & Spicy Fire Wok. This follows the company’s debut of two other products targeted at diversifying its offerings: Top Ramen Bowl, which puts Top Ramen and dried vegetables and flavoring in a disposable bowl, and a variety of Cup Noodles containing a full serving of vegetables.

With the potential for an economic downturn on the horizon, it’s possible that budget-friendly meal options like ramen will continue to benefit. And a few new entrants into the category are attempting to make the instant noodles health-friendly too.

Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen claims to offer products that have 40% less sodium than the leading ramen brand. It also touts its cooking method as being healthier, as it steams the noodles instead of frying, and does not use palm oil.

And this year, plant-based startup WhatIf Foods launched its ramen in the U.S. with the protein and fiber-rich bambara nut as its star ingredient. The brand said its patented ramen technology air-fries ramen as opposed to deep frying, and allows its products to have a longer shelf life.

As consumers have increasingly sought healthier food options, Nissin has also made some changes to stay on trend. Several years ago, it removed MSG and reduced the sodium levels of its Top Ramen products. But as competition intensifies from better-for-you upstarts, the pressure to adapt and innovate will only continue to grow.