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Instant Noodles Reflect The Fast Changes In China's Economy
Falling sales of cheap foods matches changing tastes and improving living standards (CCSS Level: Grade 7, Words: 390)
Oct 17, 2016 Style & Living
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One company, Tianjin-based Tingyi, makes by far the largest amount of instant noodles in China. In fact instant noodles make up around 40% of their profits, while drinks like sweetened ice tea make up the rest. However along with other instant noodle makers, Tingyi is facing a problem as sales of their products have fallen every year for the last 4 years. For example, sales of instant noodles dropped 12.5% in 2015.

There are several reasons for the fall in demand. Firstly blue-collar workers who came to the cities from the countryside were the biggest market for cheap foods like noodles. They only cost a few cents and they were available everywhere. However in recent years these same workers have seen rising income, with their wages growing faster than white-collar office workers.

It is no real surprise that instant noodle sales have fallen so far. They are a good example of what economists call an "inferior good" – a product that people don't want when they can afford better. China's workers are able and willing to pay more for their daily food.

A second reason is that there are now so many more options and choices when it comes to lunch and dinner. Look at any street in a Chinese city and you won't fail to see brightly-dressed food-delivery people on motorcycles and bicycles hurrying to deliver food orders that offer more choices and better quality. Last year, the value of those deliveries was US$20 billion - up 55 per cent from the year before. So quick and tasty options are just an app or phone call away. Students and workers find this very attractive.

Lastly, according to a recent customer survey, half of China's buyers now look for the "best and most expensive" product. So a plastic pot of instant noodles just doesn't cut it. More and more people care deeply about the quality of their food. Pot noodles are seen as a product with too much salt and preservatives. So sales of organic food, bottled water and medicines have seen a steady rise. Even when people do choose the quick noodle path, they are more and more likely to buy an imported product.

In a market of 1.3 billion people, it is likely that companies that can meet Chinese people's changing tastes and expectations will be the winners.

What is the main reason that instant noodle sales have fallen?
The quality of instant noodles has fallen over time
Worker's incomes have risen so they can afford better options
More people have chosen to buy imported products instead
People's changing tastes mean that noodles are not fashionable
Apart from workers, what other sector (that likes delivered food) is mentioned in the article?
students
housewives
white-collar workers
children and teens
The phrase "just doesn't cut it" means…
What was good enough before isn't good enough now
Noodles can not be eaten with chopsticks, but need a knife
It is too difficult to get boiling water on a work site
There are more limits on the quality of instant foods
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