Ramen Noodle Price Hike Scare

With prices steadily rising on gasoline and real estate, the noodle industry is no exception. The Nissin Corporation, manufacturer of Top Ramen Noodles, has announced a 10% price increase on its signature product, Top Ramen Noodles. Consumers can now expect to pay eleven cents at the grocery store for their noodle fix up from a ten cent MSRP familiar to consumers just last week.

Company executives blame the dramatic increase on a combination of a higher cost of ingredients as well as much needed employee wage increases. With a previous retail cost of ten cents, and grocery stores only paying about half of that to the Nissin Corporation, the company had to sell 315,000 noodles a month just to cover the $15750 monthly rent at the noodle factory. With the penny increase, the corporation is reporting they could pay off that same overhead selling just 286,363 noodles.

But how will consumers respond to the price increase? In a poll of 5000 college students nationwide, 71% said they can no longer afford to buy the product, 24% said they would buy less, and only 5% said they would buy the same amount.

“It’s simply asking too much.” Said University of Maryland student John Kearns: “It’s just another example of big corporations taking advantage of the little guy. I remember when I was a freshman and you could buy Ramen for 9 cents, or sometimes even 8 cents if you shopped around. Even that was a lot. But this is just fucking ridiculous”

Analysts suspect that even if the price increase drives some consumers away, that extra penny could still mean an additional profit for Nissin of 39 dollars, or 31% this quarter alone.

When asked about the increase during a phone interview, Nissin president Momofuku Ando claimed the price raise was necessary to keep the business running. “For Christ sake, I make like .006 cents on every package I sell. I’ve been peddling these noodles for 30 years, I have 843 employees, we sell about 4 billion of these things each year, and I still drive the same car I did when I started this company. I keep coming out with new flavors just because I can’t afford to eat anything else and if I have one more Picante Beef, I’m just gonna lose it.”

Another University of Maryland student, Justin Maleson, claims the biggest loser in all of this is the country of Somalia. “At the old prices, me and six of my buddies were gonna pitch in $40 a piece and buy a lot of Ramen Noodles. We were gonna send them to Somalia where, by our math, that would feed the entire country for about 6 months. But now, it’s like, it’s just not even worth it.”

At the old noodle price a consumer could feed his family of four for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for one year for only $438. Now it would cost the same family $481.80. Are consumers ready to shell out oodles of cash for oodles of noodles? Time will tell.

Rob Unger is a Lush For Life guest writer.

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