Over 80% of instant noodles available today are produced using deep-frying technology - this process has not materially changed over 80 years since instant noodles were first invented in Japan. This is because deep-frying is considered as a relatively cheap and efficient process to dehydrate the noodle dough. The result is:
(a) an unsustainable process that uses large quantities of palm oil (the most expensive ingredient of instant noodles),
(b) an instant noodle that is high in fat of about 20%,
(c) a homogenous instant noodle product that is largely made of wheat and
(d) the requirement for high sodium/MSG in the seasoning to mask the rancidity of the oil.
As a consequence, instant noodle brands differentiate themselves primarily through the taste in their seasonings, rather than the noodle cake itself. The high fat and sodium content have led to instant noodles being generally considered as a guilty pleasure of foods.
This company invented an industrial air-frying technology that replaces the deep-fryer with the potential to positively disrupt the instant noodle industry. The outcome of the technology is an instant noodle product that is colourful, flavourful, healthier and more sustainable. This technology can be licensed to instant noodle manufacturers that want to create a differentiated portfolio of instant noodle products to cater to consumers who are increasingly conscious of health and sustainability issues.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
The technology replaces the deep-fryer, eliminating the use of palm oil (which is the most expensive ingredient in the instant noodle production process) and saving about USD4m for every billion portions of instant noodles produced (factoring OPEX, CAPEX and COGS). Furthermore, the technology does not compromise on production capacity/speed on the same production footprint as a deep-frying production line. The result is an instant noodle product that has 70% less fat compared to deep-fried noodles.
Furthermore, the lower temperature process of the technology allows for the incorporation of other natural ingredients into the noodle dough without materially impacting their flavours, colours and nutrients. Such ingredients can replace a portion of the refined wheat to improve the nutritional profile of the noodle cake (e.g. increasing the protein and fiber content of the noodles). The result is a colourful, flavourful, healthier and more sustainable instant noodle without compromising affordability. Less sodium and no MSG is required due to the lower oil content (which generally results in rancid notes).
The technology can be applied to the manufacture of instant noodles that are wheat-based or rice-based. The technology can also incorporate a range of natural ingredients into the noodle dough, creating a differentiated instant noodle product. The technology can also be retrofitted into an existing conventional deep-frying production line. The instant noodle product can be sold using B2C channels (e.g. through existing instant noodle brands) and B2B channels (e.g. hotels, restaurants and catering).
End-consumers will benefit from an instant noodle that is lower in fat and sodium and has no MSG. The incorporation of nutrient-rich ingredients can result in an instant noodle that is higher in protein, fiber and micronutrients. As a result, the instant noodle can have naturally vibrant colours and flavours which opens up new possibilities for seasoning pairings.