The spice is right: Nestle Malaysia highlights how hot flavours are driving instant noodle popularity
MAGGI has been a household name in Malaysia – and most of Asia – for decades when it comes to instant noodles, and the brand has also successfully managed to retain its popularity and innovation even throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nestle Malaysia confirmed the instant noodles sector saw a boost during the lockdown period due to the product’s inherent convenience and the rise of in-home consumption locally.
“With prolonged lockdowns and social-distancing rules, there has been increased in-home consumption of convenient food such as instant noodles, as more consumers work and study from home,” Geetha Balakrishna, Business Executive Officer, MAGGI, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“According to 2021 data from the World Instant Noodles Association, this increase was approximately an 8% increase for Malaysia [with] a rise of home-cooks [leading to] more consumers considering both soup and dry noodles during lockdown.
“[That said], whilst we adjust to the new normal post-pandemic, we expect more consumers to dine-out and anticipate instant noodles consumption and cooking aids usage to potentially normalise back to pre-pandemic levels.”
As such, the brand has no intention of relying on the in-home consumption trend to continue boosting sales, but has also done a lot of innovation with its flavours to garner and retain consumer interest - with a lot of this being focused in the spicy category
“Another notable trend [here is] Malaysians’ love for spicy and authentic local flavours – this inspired two truly Malaysian MAGGI Mi Goreng flavours: Sambal Tumis Bilis (Anchovy sambal chilli stir-fry) and Cili Kampung (Village-style Chilli),” said Balakrishna.
“The spicy noodle segment is currently a MYR 143k market size and growing at a +10% (Nielsen RMS, Sept 2021) rate. [This is why] MAGGI is committed to provide an authentic taste and reflection of Malaysia’s love for everything spicy – hence, [another spicy flavour dubbed] MAGGI Pedas Giler (Crazy Spicy).
“To cater to different tolerance levels of spiciness, in MAGGI Pedas Giler consumers can choose to customize the level of spiciness by adjusting the amount of chili oil. [This range] is available in the dry format in both Bag and Bowl. [We previously also had] MAGGI Letup (Explosion), another spicy offering, but this was discontinued since 2019.”
To introduce variance in the way spice is delivered to consumers, MAGGI Malaysia has also launched instant noodles where the flavourings are provided as a paste as opposed to the traditional powder sachet format.
“We recently launched two new flavours - MAGGI Udang Pedas Utara (MAGGI North Spicy Prawn Noodles) and Tom Yam Kaw Noodles [with the tastemaker provided] in the form of a paste instead of powder to offer a more intense and authentic taste delivery,” said Balakrishna.
“Food has become an important part of the culture here in Malaysia, [and] we pride ourselves in having strong cuisine understanding on what Malaysians like.”
In Malaysia, MAGGI noodles were first introduced in 1971 – the brand just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year – with two of the most traditional and iconic flavours that have been around since then being Curry and Chicken.
Health and sustainability
In addition to spice and in-home consumption, Nestle Malaysia also believes that the future of the instant noodles industry lies in health and sustainability.
“Overall, COVID-19 has made health a priority and demand for healthier food options are on increasing trend,” Balakrishna added.
“Malaysia saw a 100% increase in Google searchers in regards to ‘Boosting Immune system’, 30% increase in ‘vitamins’ and up to 6x increase in searches for e-health related platforms – [This shows that] increasingly health and wellbeing will be at the centre of every decision consumers make, especially as awareness on health continues to rise.
“In light of the demand for healthier eating and healthier food options, we have embarked on a MAGGI ‘Sajian Seimbang Tanda Sayang’ (Balanced Diet is a Sign of Love) campaign with the intention to educate consumers on how to prepare a balanced meal with their bowl of MAGGI 2 Minute Noodles by adding vegetables and protein to make it a tasty and balanced meal for their family.
“We are also constantly optimising our range of MAGGI Noodles to ensure we continue to offer our consumers tasty and exciting products – [in line with this], we will be launching a range of better-for-you products in 2022.”
As for sustainability, Nestle as a whole has long been highlighting its commitments to improve the sustainability of its supply chain and packaging, and the same principles are expected to apply to MAGGI as well.
“[Sustainability is increasingly important] with Gen Z consumers emerging as the sustainability generation and seeking sustainable practices to adopt at home,” said Balakrishna.
“As such, increasingly more businesses in the instant noodles market are strengthening their sustainable commitments, including Nestlé, in meeting its ambition of making 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.”