The Himalayan Times Feb 14, 2013
Nepal was primarily dominated by the white noodles, Maggie in the 80s. Detecting a need for brown instant noodles in the Nepali market, Chaudhary Group tapped on the demand in 1984 with the introduction of the brown instant noodles, Wai Wai. With technical collaboration from Thai Preserved Food Factory (TPFF), Thailand, the popularity of this brand has been escalating since its introduction.
There are two plants that manufacture Wai Wai, which are located in Kathmandu and Nawalparasi. Plants and machinery have been imported from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and China. TPFF assists and helps with the technical aspects and employees are frequently sent to Thailand for trainings. Upgradations of the plants run parallel with the changing technology and there are more than 1,200 employees working for Wai Wai.
Although primarily a local brand, Wai Wai is also exported to countries like India, USA, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan. “We have a small share in the global market, but Wai Wai sells the most in the Middle East besides Nepal,” says G P Shah, vice president (FMCG Division) of Chaudhary Group. “The product is the same, but the packaging differs according to requirements of the countries importing Wai Wai,” adds Shah, informing that worldwide, Wai Wai has an annual turnover of Rs 3 billion, while in Nepal it is approximately Rs 1.40 billion.
Wai Wai is the most affordable food product. Earlier when the noodle was introduced, it had a small market as consumer’s awareness had to be created and the noodles market back then was dominated by Maggie. Soon, many competitors joined the market. The market size increased with the introduction of instant noodles brands like Mayos and Rum Pum in 2000.
The last decade has seen a cut-throat competition as awareness and penetration of noodles brands has reached every corner of Nepal,” opines Shah. Instant noodles are the most advertised and promoted brands in Nepal.
“Wai Wai has stood the pressure of competitions and prevailed as the best instant noodle,” informs Shah. The reasons for securing the top position according to Shah are due to its unique taste, innovation and constant upgrading that includes adopting better and safer packaging. “Wai Wai was the first brand to introduce food fortification in Nepal in 2006,” informs Shah. New flavours have been introduced. Quick, a variant of Wai Wai comes in various flavours like Schezwan chicken, Manchurian veg, Chicken curry, Veg curry, Chicken pizza and Kimchi.
“Three years back, Mayos used to be our biggest competitor but currently we are at the top,” claims Shah.
For the last three consecutive years, Wai Wai stood as the number one brand according to the research done by ACNielsen, Nepal. Wai Wai is the member of World Instant Noodle Association, Japan since 2007 and is also the member of Snack Food Association, USA. “We have a strict quality control practice,” says Shah. The Quality Assurance and Quality Control Division go through all the processes from manufacturing to packaging.
Time and again, health concerns are raised regarding use of monosodium glutamate as one of the ingredients in Wai Wai. Shah defends the use by saying, “Japan has the highest per capita consumption of monosodium glutamate and Japanese have the highest life expectancy
in the world.”
Shah informs that the cost of production has been increasing as input costs are on the rise. Costs of wheat, flour, oil and spices have been increasing. In addition, load shedding and transportation also affect production. “However, we have reduced and stabilised the prices with better plant efficiency,” shares Shah.
The annual growth rate for instant noodles has been 20 to 25 per cent in the last five years. “Chaudhary Group as a company holds a market share of 42 per cent and Wai Wai as a brand holds a market share of 25 per cent in Nepal,” says Shah. The brand plans to continue its innovation and introduce new flavours and products. “A third plant is in the pipeline which will increase our efficiency,” informs Shah.
Wai Wai’s distinctive practises:
Wai Wai Gyanodaya Scholarship – This is a scholarship scheme which was introduced in March 2009. This scheme provides scholarships to students for a period varying from one to three years in Gyanodaya School. In the fiscal year 2008/2009, 453 students were provided with this scholarship.
Multi Language Campaign – This campaign was introduced in April 2010. It spreads and promotes the message of unification of ethnic groups in Nepal.