The importance of producing MAMA noodles

Reading Time: 2 minutes
All pictures © Arno Maierbrugger

Since 45 years, MAMA noodles are part of the daily diet in Thailand, and the brand is widely regarded as the queen of instant noodles across East Asia and beyond to an extent that they are even traded as a “currency” in US prisons where food is notoriously bad.

This was enticement enough for Investvine to pay a visit to a MAMA instant noodle factory run by Thai President Foods, the brand’s owner and inventor, in Sriracha, Chonburi district, south of Bangkok.

The company came up with the brand in 1972 and since grew to the largest instant noodle manufacturer in Thailand as of 2017, with a market share slightly above 50 per cent ahead of domestic competitors Wai Wai and Yum Yum and is also well-known beyond the country’s borders. Today, the company has a production capacity of six million packages or cups of noodles a day in three factories in Thailand and one each in Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Hungary.

Apart from East Asia, MAMA noodles are also popular across Europe and in countries such as Egypt and South Africa, while the US and Canadian markets are growing about one to two per cent a year, a Thai President Foods spokesman told Investvine. Overall, the company exports 20 per cent of its production to 65 countries.

Sales revenue from instant noodles alone in 2016 reached more than 10 billion baht ($294 million), and together with the company’s other products such as parboiled rice, biscuits, soft drinks and dairy products, sales were over 15 billion baht. Revenue grew every year since the company’s foundation until 2015, when a slowing Thai economy hit lower-income earners and sales of MAMA noodles only grew 0.4 per cent, a 44-year record low, but are on the upswing again.

The reason was that the lower-income bracket is the main target group for instant noodles which are seen as a basic staple for the populace, to an extent that the price for a packages is set by the government to six baht for the smallest 55-grammes package- leaving the manufacturer no leeway to adjust prices, particularly at times when wheat prices rise.

MAMA noodles currently come in 18 flavours, of which Tom Yum, Creamy Shrimp and Green Cutrry are among the most popular, together with pork and chicken flavoured noodles and vegetarian variations. The instant noodles themselves come in two versions, air dried or fried.

Here is where nutrition issues come into the picture. Fried instant noodles are made using palm oil, and some nutritionists say it is not the healthiest choice due to the amount of saturated fat the oil it contains. For those concerned about their fat intake, the alternative is to choose air-dried instant noodles.

However, as many Thai dishes, MAMA noodles also contain their fair amount of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a flavour enhancer that is said to have harmful effects such as headache, high blood pressure, weight gain and others. MAMA noodles contain MSG “not over the recommended limit,” as the Thai President Foods spokesman puts it.

As always, it is probably the amount of instant noodles one eats that could lead to intolerances, so they shouldn’t be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. In fact, according to Thai President Foods, one Thai person eats an average of 44 packs or cups of noodles per year (of all brands), which should be in the tolerance range.

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[caption id="attachment_29870" align="alignleft" width="300"] All pictures © Arno Maierbrugger[/caption] Since 45 years, MAMA noodles are part of the daily diet in Thailand, and the brand is widely regarded as the queen of instant noodles across East Asia and beyond to an extent that they are even traded as a "currency" in US prisons where food is notoriously bad. This was enticement enough for Investvine to pay a visit to a MAMA instant noodle factory run by Thai President Foods, the brand's owner and inventor, in Sriracha, Chonburi district, south of Bangkok. The company came up with the brand in 1972...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

All pictures © Arno Maierbrugger

Since 45 years, MAMA noodles are part of the daily diet in Thailand, and the brand is widely regarded as the queen of instant noodles across East Asia and beyond to an extent that they are even traded as a “currency” in US prisons where food is notoriously bad.

This was enticement enough for Investvine to pay a visit to a MAMA instant noodle factory run by Thai President Foods, the brand’s owner and inventor, in Sriracha, Chonburi district, south of Bangkok.

The company came up with the brand in 1972 and since grew to the largest instant noodle manufacturer in Thailand as of 2017, with a market share slightly above 50 per cent ahead of domestic competitors Wai Wai and Yum Yum and is also well-known beyond the country’s borders. Today, the company has a production capacity of six million packages or cups of noodles a day in three factories in Thailand and one each in Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Hungary.

Apart from East Asia, MAMA noodles are also popular across Europe and in countries such as Egypt and South Africa, while the US and Canadian markets are growing about one to two per cent a year, a Thai President Foods spokesman told Investvine. Overall, the company exports 20 per cent of its production to 65 countries.

Sales revenue from instant noodles alone in 2016 reached more than 10 billion baht ($294 million), and together with the company’s other products such as parboiled rice, biscuits, soft drinks and dairy products, sales were over 15 billion baht. Revenue grew every year since the company’s foundation until 2015, when a slowing Thai economy hit lower-income earners and sales of MAMA noodles only grew 0.4 per cent, a 44-year record low, but are on the upswing again.

The reason was that the lower-income bracket is the main target group for instant noodles which are seen as a basic staple for the populace, to an extent that the price for a packages is set by the government to six baht for the smallest 55-grammes package- leaving the manufacturer no leeway to adjust prices, particularly at times when wheat prices rise.

MAMA noodles currently come in 18 flavours, of which Tom Yum, Creamy Shrimp and Green Cutrry are among the most popular, together with pork and chicken flavoured noodles and vegetarian variations. The instant noodles themselves come in two versions, air dried or fried.

Here is where nutrition issues come into the picture. Fried instant noodles are made using palm oil, and some nutritionists say it is not the healthiest choice due to the amount of saturated fat the oil it contains. For those concerned about their fat intake, the alternative is to choose air-dried instant noodles.

However, as many Thai dishes, MAMA noodles also contain their fair amount of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a flavour enhancer that is said to have harmful effects such as headache, high blood pressure, weight gain and others. MAMA noodles contain MSG “not over the recommended limit,” as the Thai President Foods spokesman puts it.

As always, it is probably the amount of instant noodles one eats that could lead to intolerances, so they shouldn’t be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. In fact, according to Thai President Foods, one Thai person eats an average of 44 packs or cups of noodles per year (of all brands), which should be in the tolerance range.

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