Cup Noodles taps into rising demand for instant ramen with breakfast-inspired flavor, premium offerings

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Nissin Foods
Image Credit: Nissin Foods

Related tags Nissin Instant noodles limited editions

Cup Noodles is stirring up soup occasions with a breakfast-inspired ramen as the brand looks to expand its ramen business with a focus on premium offerings and flavor innovation, Priscila Stanton, senior VP of marketing for Nissin Foods, told FoodNavigator-USA.

Available exclusively at Walmart, Cup Noodles Breakfast is​ as if “Cup Noodles walked into a diner for breakfast,​” Stanton said. The LTO flavor is a "combination of sweet and savory flavors,​" featuring pancake, maple syrup, sausage, and egg flavors in the soup broth with ramen noodles.

While slurping noodles for breakfast might seem unconventional to some, “no one has really said noodles can only be eaten at lunch or at dinner,​” Stanton said. “Cup Noodles get eaten at all times of the day,​" she added.  

Ramen, soup sales accelerate

These expanded occasions are also spurring growth in both the overall soup market and ramen category, while consumers look for budget-friendly items in the face of economic turbulence.

The US shelf-stable soup market has grown from a $7.59bn market in 2021 to $8.68bn in 2022, growing 14% year-over-year, according to SPINS data shared during “The State of Natural & Organic” keynote at the Natural Products Expo West. Additionally, the shelf-stable ramen and udon blocks segment grew at an accelerated rate from a $659m market in 2021 to $869m in 2022, growing 32% year-over-year.

Cup Noodles has also seen this growth reflected in its brand, Stanton said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in the … instant ramen category this year versus last year; it grew 32%​,” she added.  

On top of its original line of noodles, Cup Noodle has expanded into the premium ramen segment, Stanton said, with product offerings like Hot & Spicy Fire Wok, Cup Noodles Sir Fry Rice With Noodles, and Cup Noodles Stir Fry. In 2022, Nissin Foods also grew​ its presence in this category by 32% for a total market share of 82.3%.

Using LTOs to find the unexpected

Another way Cup Noodles is winning in the market is by continuing to look at the consumer trends that are bubbling to the surface while also still providing value to its customers, Stanton said.

We've lived through other economic hardships, and we have always fared well because … we're such a value; we’re a meal,​” Stanton said. “In the case of Cup Noodles Breakfast, a meal at $1.18 is fantastic.​”

In addition, Cup Noodles will continue to explore ways to meet consumers' demands for unique flavors, exploring other LTO opportunities, Stanton said. In 2021, Cup Noodles released its first limited-time offering, Cup Noodles Pumpkin Spice, which was also exclusive to Walmart.

"We're excited because we are not done yet. We can go into many more places, especially with an LTO strategy, and that unexpected element is what is going to drive the engagement in conversation with our consumers.​"

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