Instant noodles: They're cheap, easy to make and even sometimes tasty. They come in all sorts of synthetically-delicious flavours like "beef", "chicken" and "vegetable." Or at least that's what's written on the small powder packets that come with them.
But the business of the strings is ridiculous. Instant noodles sales cleared the 100 billion mark last year, according to AFP, and China alone accounts for 44 billion units sold. Canada is in 24th place in the top 42 noodle-devouring countries.
It's such an established industry that there's been an association for it since 1997. The International Ramen Manufacturers Association (IRMA) was kickstarted by Momofuku Ando, who invented instant noodles in 1958, and attracted various instant noodle manufacturers worldwide.
IRMA, based in Japan, became the World Instant Noodle Association (WINA) in 2007. The association strives to "provide information by way of improving the quality and the safety of instant noodles" and "help those in need by way of providing instant noodles."
WINA's website also shows sales figures from 2008-12 for its expanding market, developing countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and India.
"The results show that instant noodles have become a global standard dish," Norio Sakurai, an official with WINA, told AFP.
"We think global sales will continue growing particularly in some developing nations."
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