The food industry is a business constantly in flux, always mutating and morphing in the hopes of recapturing consumers' notoriously short attention spans. Over the years, this hunger for change has driven companies like Nabisco and Frito-Lay to concoct an unfathomable amount of sugar and sodium-packed variations on its products. More recently, however, the trend has been shifting in the opposite direction, with companies producing classic foodstuffs with more organic, health-conscious ingredients.
Throughout all of this, Cup Noodles has existed as a kind of anchor for broke college students and frugal bachelors. Over the course of its 45-year tenure on American supermarket shelves, those little Styrofoam cups have never changed their ingredients.
But now, in an effort to keep pace with a growing health-food trend, Cup Noodles' parent company, Nissin Foods USA announced that all eight flavors of its iconic soup would soon be changing. The shift will only affect US products, and seeks to substantially trim MSG and sodium from its freeze-dried noodles, seasoning packets, and vegetables.
It remains to be seen whether green cabbage juice will really intensify the Cup Noodles flavor, but apparent these are changes Americans have been pleading for.
“They were saying, ‘We love your product, but we’d really like to see these changes made,’” Al Multari, the chief executive of Nissin Foods USA, told the LA Times.
Still, higher quality ingredients are expensive and the company says there will be a "significant" increase in price. Predictably, not everyone is happy.
“I’m surprised they changed the formulation of their current product as opposed to coming out with another line that is higher-priced and healthier,” Jim Prevor, a food analyst at the Perishable Pundit, explained. “It’s very hard to change people’s perceptions of brands. It usually fails, and it fails because to the extent you attract new people, you get push back too from people [used to the old version.]”
Though Momofuku Ando famously invented freeze-dried ramen in the 1960s in Japan, in recent years gourmet ramen has been enjoying a moment stateside, thanks largely to chef David Chang and his Momofuku restaurant group. Between the noodle bar craze and the health-food craze, Nissin has taken a bit of a hit. Times are changing; whether or not it's a shift for the better remains to be seen.
[via LA Times]