Why a Thai noodlemaker is feeling Hungary

As a species, we are nuts for noodles.
As a species, we are nuts for noodles.
Image: AP Images/David Longstreath
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An enterprising Thai noodlemaker wants to take advantage of Europe’s recent economic struggles to gain more market share for his company’s products. Thai President Foods, maker of the popular Mama line of instant noodles, is looking to acquire a $9.7 million noodle plant—in Hungary.

“Because of the economic slowdown in Europe, we will be able to purchase the plant at a good price,” the company’s president, Suchai Ratanajiajaroen, told Thai newspaper The Nation. While the company already exports its noodles—flavors include seafood soup, green curry, pork, chicken, and more—from Thailand to Europe, the company must pay transportation and import duties, Suchai says.

Europe appears primed for growth, as the firm says its sales have been increasing 10% to 20% annually there, with the biggest demand coming from noodle-hungry Germany and England.

This is not the Thai company’s first international expansion effort: Its products are sold in more than 50 countries, and the company has plants in neighboring Cambodia and Myanmar, a joint venture in Bangladesh, and a $7.9 million plant in the isolated Himalayan nation of Bhutan that exports to India.

The company has good reason to be bullish on the global appetite for instant noodles. In The Noodle Narratives: The Global Rise of an Industrial Food into the Twenty-First Century, a book published in August, three researchers noted that last year some 100 billion packets and cups were sold. That amounts to roughly 14 servings for each person on the planet.

Negotiations for the plant in Hungary could conclude by the end of the year.