Featured Product: Waking up to the smell of breakfast-based instant noodles

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I dismissed this as an April Fool’s Day joke, but it looks like the joke is on me. You can’t blame me though – the launch was announced in March and a lot of other people thought it was a joke too.

Nissin Foods USA launched a limited edition flavor for its Cup Noodles called Breakfast, which is said to have the flavors of popular breakfast items all in one instant format. The product includes flavors of maple syrup, pancakes, egg, and sausages. In fact, Nissin refers to the new product as “the first ramen product for the most important meal of the day.” This appears to be part of the company’s strategy to position instant noodles as an any-time meal.

Noodles for breakfast

Our data indicates that consumer engagement with instant noodles for breakfast is relatively high (in terms of meal occasions), even though this meal occasion has also seen the largest decline over the last two years. The launch of this product could be to further cement this association between instant noodles and breakfast in the US. 

Top consumption occasions for instant noodles in the US

Occasion Share of datapoints 2-year CAGR
Dinner 10.80% -6.29%
Breakfast 10.11% -45.45%
Lunch 8.44% 0.39%

Source: Ai Palette Foresight Engine (As of April 2023)

Creating a buzz with limited editions

Launching this as a limited edition was also a good move mainly as unusual flavors create a lot of interest among consumers even if they can be quite polarizing. Consumers may not always love the product, but the experience is memorable and talked about, which in turn is a win for the brands – the “no publicity is bad publicity” credo in play.

This is also not the first unusual flavor that Nissin has launched in the US (or anywhere else, for that matter). In October 2021, the company launched a pumpkin spice flavor for its Cup Noodles, which was popular enough to make a comeback in Fall 2022l.

Limited editions in the ready-to-eat category (to which instant noodles belong) are low compared to other categories, and this tactic has a lot of potential to encourage consumption across different occasions. 

Maturity stage for “Limited Edition” across different categories in the US

Category Data Points Maturity Phase 4-Year CAGR
Alcoholic Beverage 628.2K Growing 14.14%
Bakery 112.7K Matured 5.10%
Beverage 1.3M Growing 16.83%
Confectionery 2.5M Dormant -0.29%
Dairy 2.2M Dormant 2.04%
Plant-based 107.9K Declining 1.70%
Ready-to-eat 319.1K Dormant -7.41%
Snacks 1.9M Dormant 1.77%

Source: Ai Palette Foresight Engine (As of April 2023)

Bringing together flavors of full meals

Based on products from retail and food service, here are a few popular meal options that have the potential to serve as templates for instant noodles flavors in the future or for other parts of the world.

Source: Ai Palette Foresight Engine (As of April 2023)