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Rice, Pasta and Noodles in Asia Pacific

February 2020

Asia Pacific is the largest region globally for rice, pasta and noodles. This is driven by traditional preferences and consumers trading up from unpackaged to packaged rice, as well as active innovations to localise flavours and nutritional positionings of noodles and pasta to the latest consumer demands. Future growth will come from trading up to packaged rice in more developing countries, as well as premiumisation in noodles to evolving consumer tastes.

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Key Findings

Growth is mainly driven by consumers trading up from unpackaged to packaged rice across Asia Pacific

While demand for rice is slowing in more developed markets such as South Korea and Japan, developing markets such as Indonesia, India and Vietnam are driving overall growth in Asia Pacific. Economic growth gives them the means to afford more expensive rice with verifiable food safety standards, while population growth continues to boost basic volume demand. Combined, this is a strong boost for overall value sales growth.

Consumers in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are seeking out more functional and convenient alternatives to packaged rice

At the other end of the spectrum, consumers in more developed markets are looking for greater convenience and functionality in addition to basic satiety. There are more convenient alternatives such as meals delivered from consumer foodservice, and instant rice options amidst faster paced lifestyles. With “low-carb” diets gaining ground, consumers have close substitutes such as oats, millet, quinoa and sweet potatoes to choose from. Consumers are willing to pay a higher price for additional nutritional benefits, as grains such as oats are beneficial for digestion and heart health in addition to being very filling.

Multinational instant noodle players grew through localisation and premiumisation strategies

Multinational instant noodle players such as Nissin, Indofood and Nong Shim focused on product innovation to localise their flavours. More exotic premium variants were also introduced to each market to add dynamism and drive value sales. This was backed up by strong marketing and promotional efforts, which translated into share growth from 2014 to 2019 at the expense of other instant noodle players.

Future growth to be driven by China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam

As consumers acquire greater means in Indonesia, India and Vietnam, trading up from unpackaged to higher quality packaged rice is expected to become more mainstream. Within China, healthier innovations for plain and instant noodles are expected to drive growth in the face of convenient food delivery alternatives.



Key findings

Regional Overview

Rice and noodles drive value sales, but pasta is the fastest growing
Historical growth was promising, but future growth will not be as fast
Across Asia Pacific, India and Indonesia stand out as rice’s growth slows
Vietnam’s growth rate tops Southeast Asia, thanks to rice
Flavour innovations in instant noodles are the region’s bright spots
Convenient and healthier options affect China, South Korea and Japan
Absolute growth was driven by uptake of rice in emerging markets…
…as well as premiumisation in instant noodles and dried pasta
E-commerce and independent small grocers gained share…..
…while supermarkets and hypermarkets lost share across Asia Pacific

Leading Companies and Brands

Small and niche players are gaining share in India and Indonesia…
…at the expense of the top 10 players in Asia Pacific
Multinationals leverage their geographic spread to drive growth
Scalability helps firms adapt to consumer demands and boost ranking

Forecast Projections

China to continue leading future growth, while Japan stagnates
Future growth to be led by China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam

Country Snapshots

China: market context
China: competitive and retail landscape
Japan: market context
Japan: competitive and retail landscape
South Korea: market context
South Korea: competitive and retail landscape
Taiwan: market context
Taiwan: competitive and retail landscape
Thailand: market context
Thailand: competitive and retail landscape
Malaysia: market context
Malaysia: competitive and retail landscape
Indonesia: market context
Indonesia: competitive and retail landscape
India: market context
India: competitive and retail landscape
Singapore: market context
Singapore: competitive and retail landscape
Hong Kong, China: market context
Hong Kong, China: competitive and retail landscape
Philippines: market context
Philippines: competitive and retail landscape
Vietnam: market context
Vietnam: competitive and retail landscape


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