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Asian Noodles: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities

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Asian Noodles: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities

Asian Noodles: Trends & Opportunities assesses how food and foodservice industry participants are adding—and can add—to product development and marketing strategies of Asian noodles. Four primary themes emerge: variety, healthfulness, authenticity, and innovation. With respect to each of these themes, this report trends related consumer preferences and attitudes over time; ties each theme to pertinent foodservice (restaurant and prepared foods) menu trends supported by a wealth of examples; assesses related foodservice marketing strategies; and identities implications and applications for the packaged groceries segment of the market.

In doing so, the report addresses a wide range of noodle trends and opportunities. Primary data sources include metrics from our consumer surveys and from menu item analysis, as well as hundreds of menu item examples and related visual images. By section:
  • The report begins with an overview of foodservice and food retail noodle usage in the past 30 days, including at-home usage and restaurant usage. We also analyze usage by demographic, provide comparisons between Asian noodle usage and Italian noodle usage to provide context as well as shedding light on noodle knowledge and attributes desired.
  • In the Variety section, we analyze consumer attitudes toward variety in Asian noodle dishes as reflected by the nuances of ingredients, shape, texture, preparation, and culinary application. We also assess variety on the menu with consideration of these same attributes, and highlight a restaurant operator that is leveraging variety via customization. Finally, we present implications and applications for the grocery aisle, focusing on how packaged goods marketers are increasing variety of Asian noodles for at-home consumption by leveraging convenience attributes (time/speed and package size) as well as flavor expansion. By doing so, these companies and brands are better positioned to compete against mainstream Asian takeout.
  • In the Healthfulness section, we trend and analyze consumer attitudes toward health and diet, and provide applications to the Asian noodle market with a focus on health attributes that prove to be a decision influencer. We also assess health on the menu with consideration of these same attributes with the understanding that Asian noodle dishes strike a strong alignment as being inherently healthy, and in most cases, positive health associations are simply a secondary benefit. In addition, we highlight a restaurant operator that is successfully applying health to its Asian-focused menu. Finally, we present implications and applications for the grocery aisle, focusing on how health and wellness trends are causing some consumers to eschew heavily processed foods, carbs and gluten—making the category vulnerable to stagnant sales.
  • In the Authenticity section, we trend and analyze consumer attitudes toward willingness to try new foods/recipes. Then, we provide applications to the Asian noodle market with a focus on the impact of authenticity, and more specifically heritage/culture of noodles, as a decision influencer—both at home and at restaurants. We also assess authenticity on the menu with consideration of these same attributes with the understanding that Asian noodle dishes at restaurants are often the first exposure many Americans have to this cuisine. In addition, we highlight a restaurant operator that has had success mainstreaming Asian cuisine from an authentic position. Finally, we present implications and applications for the grocery aisle, focusing on how authenticity becomes an important distinction for differentiation in the competitive package noodle category.
  • In the Innovation section, we trend and analyze consumer attitudes related to innovation—whether on the menu or in marketing. We begin by assessing overall attitudes relating to culinary experiences and food adventurousness. In addition, we explore culinary innovation with consideration to noodle crossing boundaries. We also consider innovation as it applies to marketing strategies and leveraging online and social media as applied by leading Asian-centric chains. Finally, we present implications and applications for the grocery aisle.


  • Executive Summary
    • Report Scope
    • Report Summary
      • Introduction
      • Variety
      • Healthfulness
      • Authenticity
      • Innovation
  • Introduction
    • Asian noodle usage
      • Table Asian Noodle Dish Eaten in Past 30 Days, by Demographic, 2015
      • Asian versus Italian noodles: at a restaurant
        • Table Noodle Dish Eaten in Past 30 Days at a Restaurant: Asian vs. Italian, by Demographic, 2015
      • Asian versus Italian noodles: at home
        • Table Noodle Dish Eaten in Past 30 Days at Home: Asian vs. Italian, by Demographic, 2015
    • Noodle knowledge
      • Implications for menu developers
      • Implications for packaged noodles
    • Noodles on the menu
      • Introduction
      • Asian noodles versus Italian noodles
        • Table Penetration of Asian and Italian Noodles on U.S. Menus, 2010 vs. 2014
        • Table Incidence of Asian and Italian Noodles on U.S. Menus, 2010 vs. 2014
    • Important attributes in Asian noodles
      • Influencers when ordering at restaurants
      • Influencers when shopping the grocery aisle
  • Variety
    • Variety: attributes that influence choice
      • Variety via ingredients
        • Table Attributes Important to Choosing an Asian Noodle Dish on the Menu: Ingredients, by Demographic, 2015
      • Variety via preparation method/style
        • Table Attributes Important to Choosing an Asian Noodle Dish on the Menu: Preparation Method, Vegetarian and Vegan, by Demographic, 2015
      • Variety via customization
        • Table Attributes Important to Choosing an Asian Noodle Dish on the Menu: Customization and Familiarity, by Demographic, 2015
    • Noodle variety on the menu
      • Moving beyond the generic "noodle" term
        • Table Top Asian Noodle Dishes Served as Menu Entrées, 2014
      • Shape and texture increase noodle variety
        • Table Asian Noodle Dishes: Shapes and Sizes, 2010-2014
      • Noodle variety across the menu
        • Table Asian Noodles in Pasta/Noodle Entrées and Soup/Salads, 2014
      • Applying variety to the menu: ShopHouse Kitchen
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • Expansion in variety through convenience and flavor innovation
  • Healthfulness
    • Healthfulness: attitudes toward food and diet
      • Table Health, Food & Diet Attitudes, Any Agree & Strongly Agree, 2005-2015
      • Healthful attributes sought in noodles
        • Table Health Attributes Important in Asian Noodles, Low-/No- Claims, by Demographic, 2015
        • Table Health Attributes Important in Asian Noodles, Added Protein, Fiber and Nutrients, by Demographic, 2015
        • Table Health Attributes Important in Asian Noodles, Organic and Natural, by Demographic, 2015
      • The gluten connection
        • Table Percent of Adults Currently Watching Their Diets, 2015
        • Table Reason for Watching Diet, 2015
        • Table Types of Food Bought When Watching Diet, 2015
    • Healthy noodle dishes on the menu
      • Healthy noodle types
        • Table Top Asian Noodle Dish Healthy Terms, 2010-2014
      • Growth in more unique veggies
        • Table Top 25 Vegetables Served with Asian Noodle Dishes, 2010-2014
      • Healthy proteins are most often menued in Asian noodle dishes
        • Table Top 15 Proteins Served with Asian Noodle Dishes, 2010-2014
      • Healthful noodle dish preparation methods
        • Table Asian Noodle Dishes, Top Preparation Methods, 2010-2014
      • Applying health to the menu: Noodles & Company World Kitchen
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • Packaged noodles can capture healthy halo
  • Authenticity
    • Authenticity: Attitudes toward noodle dishes
      • Authentic attributes sought in noodles
        • Table Importance of Authenticity and Heritage when Eating Asian Noodles: At Restaurant vs. At Home, 2015
    • Authenticity on the menu
      • Asian noodles have modest penetration on restaurant menus
        • Table Noodle Dish Menu Penetration, by Noodle Country of Origin, 2014
        • Table Noodle Dish Menu Penetration, by Noodle Country of Origin and Primary Menu Cuisine, 2014
        • Table Noodle Dish Menu Penetration, by Noodle Country of Origin and Restaurant Segment, 2014
      • Chinese noodles and noodle dishes
        • Table Top Chinese Noodle Dishes, 2010-2014
      • Japanese noodles and noodle dishes
        • Table Top Japanese Noodle Dishes, 2010-2014
      • Thai noodles and noodle dishes
        • Table Top Thai Noodle Dishes, 2010-2014
      • Applying authenticity to the menu: P.F. Chang's
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • Packaged noodles leverage authenticity
  • Innovation
    • Innovation: Attitudes toward culinary experiences
      • Relationship to Asian noodle usage
        • Table Food Adventurousness, by Asian Noodle Usage at Home and at Restaurants, 2015
      • Relationship to Asian noodle knowledge
        • Table Food Adventurousness, by Degree of Asian Noodle Knowledge, 2015
      • Culinary attributes sought in noodles
        • Table Attributes Important to Choosing an Asian Noodle Dish on the Menu: Seasonal Ingredients, Flavor, Spices and Preparation Method, by Demographic, 2015
    • Innovation: Noodles crossing boundaries
      • Asian noodles crossing into the mainstream
        • Table Restaurants Serving Asian Noodle Dishes, by Primary Restaurant Cuisine, 2014
      • Italian noodles crossing into Asian cuisine
        • Table Restaurants Serving Italian Noodle Dishes, by Primary Restaurant Cuisine, 2014
    • Innovation: Marketing strategies
      • Limited service: Panda Express
        • Table Panda Express vs. Any Fast Food Restaurant Usage, by Demographic, 2015
      • Full-service: P.F. Chang's China Bistro
        • Table P.F. Chang's China Bistro vs. Any Full-Service Restaurant Usage, by Demographic, 2015
    • Implications and applications for packaged groceries
      • Setting the stage: Leading packaged brands struggle over time
        • Table Maruchan Instant Lunch and Nissin Dry Soups: Household Usage in Past 7 Days, 2006- 2015
        • Table Maruchan Instant Lunch and Nissin Dry Soups: Household Usage in Past 7 Days, by Demographic, 2015
      • The popularity of the bowl
  • Appendix
    • Methodology
      • Consumer survey methodology
    • Report table interpretation
      • Color coding
      • Indexing
    • Terms and definitions
      • Noodles
        • Table Asian and Italian Noodles, by Search Term, 2015
      • Supermarkets
      • Restaurant categories
      • Limited-service restaurant definitions
      • Full-service restaurant definitions
      • Other definitions

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