All About Japan

Ramen White Paper Examines Global Ramen Trends

Food & Drink Ramen
Ramen White Paper Examines Global Ramen Trends

Think some people take ramen too seriously? In 2012, Yahoo Japan collaborated with the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum (not to be confused with the Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum) and The Japan Times to conduct “The World Ramen White Paper Project.”

Slurper Survey

Conducted from October 3 to November 16, the survey of 676 ramen fans in 44 countries represented the first (known) systematic attempt to analyze the global love of ramen. Major findings included:

* A large majority of respondents ate ramen at least once a month.
* A majority of respondents preferred ramen over other Japanese dishes such as sushi or tempura.
* Tonkotsu (pork bone) was the most popular soup flavor.
* Top toppings were egg, char siu (roast pork) and leeks.
* The least favored topping was menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoots).

Global Stretch

Represented countries included Bolivia, Brazil, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore and Taiwan, among others. While the test group wasn’t large enough to reveal any reliably broad patterns—the sample size allowed an average of just 15 people per country, after all—the makers did piece together a few basic demographic distinctions:

* People in Asia tended toward spicier soup, while the rest of the world leaned mild.
* The largest demographic group represented was females in their 20s, and more women than men said they believed it was okay to slurp when you eat ramen. 60 percent of female respondents said they slurp when they eat.
* While respondents listed “having to wait in line,” “not being able to reserve a table” and “having to rush to eat” as negatives of the ramen experience, 18 percent of Americans indicated they were willing to line up for over an hour to down their favorite bowl.

And it seemed that ramen and Japan still retained a strong connection: 83 percent of respondents said they’d visited Japan, and 85 percent of that group had eaten ramen there—though it should also be noted that some respondents lived in Japan, likely skewing that result.