Noodle maker in hot water

2011-06-27 11:00

Seoul – Top South Korean noodle maker Nongshim Co Ltd ran into unexpected trouble from the nation’s fair trade officials, who slapped the company with a steep fine for exaggerating the nutritional value of a new brand of instant noodles.

The company said the “Shin Ramyun Black” brand, launched to commemorate its 25th year in business, was “close to a perfect food” – but trade officials begged to differ, fining the company 155 million won (R991 630).

“This was exposed as not true at all. The company said one thing and means another,” said Lim Sung-chan, spokesman for the Fair Trade Commission, in an interview with Reuters.

“This noodle, which is twice or nearly three times as expensive as others, used enticing comments such as ‘close to perfect food’ and ‘the most idealised and balanced noodle,’ but consumers said the only thing different from other noodles was the price.”

The Shin Ramyun Black retails for 1 400 to 1 700 won, whereas most other instant noodles sell for around 563 won.

A Nongshim spokesperson said the company accepted what the Fair Trade Commission said and would work to rebuild the image of the company.

Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun, which literally means “spicy noodle” in Korean, is one of the popular brands that gave the company a more than 60% market share of the instant noodle market last year. It is also sold in China, the United States and Japan.

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