Rice noodles or vermicelli are one of the most commonly consumed dishes in the ASEAN region and widely considered almost as much of a staple as rice itself in many markets.
This is clearly reflected by the many traditional dishes that incorporate the use of rice noodles, from pho in Vietnam to pad thai in Thailand to assam laksa in Malaysia – but its longstanding position in traditional diets also means that rice noodle brands need to think even further out of the box to pique consumer imagination and grow the market further.
One such firm is Vietnam’s Duy Anh, which specializes in rice products and developed rice noodles flavoured with watermelon – an unusual combination but one that seems to have worked, as the product has won a number of local and regional awards since its launch last year.
“These noodles are chewier than the average rice vermicelli, and there is a watermelon smell as well,” Duy Anh Foods Director Le Duy Toan told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“It is definitely a unique option, and many of our consumers tend to want to try it due to the novelty of the colour and taste and texture – but mostly due to the idea of using watermelon and vermicelli together as it is mostly unheard of.
“So this creation of a new and unusual flavour is very important as it is that feeling of trying a novel product that has not been tried and tested by all that many other people which really appeals to consumers, especially younger ones.”
Le believes that the addition of fruits, vegetables and herbs into rice vermicelli is a clear way forward for product innovation especially as these also tend to be associated with healthier connotations.
Another ASEAN firm that is very much in agreement with this sentiment is Thai rice noodle firm Foodle Noodle, which has utilised fruits like mulberry and herbs like turmeric for their product innovation.
“Our focus when it comes to product development is on the health benefits, for example turmeric rice noodles can have added immunity benefits due to the turmeric, and mulberry rice noodles have higher antioxidant benefits as mulberries naturally contain the relevant compounds,” Foodle Noodle Managing Director Vipada Sriseangboon told us.
“We have also found it important to pay attention to other factors that can contribute to health and higher-nutrition such as ensuring that all our products are organic, clean label and allergen-free.
“Even our instant cup noodle range made with rice noodles is clean label and organic, which will help to pull away from the unhealthy labels that tend to be associated with this sector.”
Watch the video above to find out more.