Why are ramen noodles so cheap? [EXPLAINED]

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Nothing can beat ramen packs’ competitive pricing, but did you ever wonder why these noodle bricks are sold dirt cheap?

Not a lot of ingredients are needed to mass-produce and distribute ramen noodles. Manufacturers like Nissin and Nongshim usually buy materials in bulk and only take less than $1 to make a pack. Mass production is inexpensive due to various automated factories running 24 hours daily.

Let’s take a closer look!

Why are ramen noodles so cheap? The main four reasons

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What makes ramen noodles very affordable?

Instant ramen noodles are staples in almost all grocery stores nationwide, and that’s not surprising.

The preparation doesn’t require a lot, which is convenient for busy people. It is usually ready in less than half an hour.

But the main selling point of ramen noodles is cheap pricing.

Have you ever wondered how noodles manufacturers can keep the price at 25 cents or less? The main four reasons:

  • bulk buying
  • automated production
  • cheap distribution
  • steady product demand

Cheap ingredients

Ramen noodles only require a handful of ingredients. For the noodles, you need flour, salt, eggs, MSG, and water. These items are very accessible and usually cheap when bought in bulk.

Meanwhile, the seasoning only needs some dry ingredients, which is also very affordable. As for the packaging, the process is done in factories.

Mass production

Big-time manufacturers like Nissin usually get the biggest savings in mass production. The kneading of the dough, the cutting and cooking of noodles, and the packaging can be automated with great success.

With human supervision, these manufacturers run huge automated factories which can produce thousands of packs each day.

Affordable shipping costs

What many people didn’t know is that shipping instant noodles doesn’t cost that much. Sure, instant noodles can take a lot of space, but a box of ramen packs is very light.

And since manufacturers usually ship these items in bulk, they don’t need to worry about paying a huge shipping fee.


And lastly, one of the reasons why ramen noodles are cheap is the steady amount of supply and demand. Consumers buy these products regardless of their financial status.

Ramen noodle factories can keep up with the demand due to efficient automated mass production. With this win-win situation, the price of ramen noodles stays cheap.

Can you eat ramen noodles every day?

Did you know that the average price of ramen noodles in the US is 13 cents? Eating three ramen meals for a whole year will only cost you a little bit less than $150.

That’s how cheap instant ramen can be. Customers can even get more discounts at some stores with bulk options.

If the price is too cheap, then is it okay to buy ramen noodles and eat them every day? This way, an average American family could save six times their food budget.

Unfortunately, ramen noodles are not known for their nutritional value. The recommended instant noodles that a person should consume is one or two packs a week.

Also read: How often do Japanese eat Ramen?

What is the cheapest thing to put in ramen?

To make ramen a little healthier but still very inexpensive, here are the 6 cheapest things to put in it:

  1. eggs: add a lot of protein at a low cost, you can add your egg directly to your cup noodles
  2. mushrooms: great bite and add a lot of fiber, protein, and antioxidants
  3. carrots: good for vitamins and nutrients
  4. scallions: lots of vitamins K and C
  5. cabbage: nutrients and vitamins C and K
  6. celery: antioxidants, beta carotene, vitamin C, and flavonoids

How much does a pack of instant ramen cost?

Known as “ramen,” most instant noodle brands in the US sell their products for less than 25 cents.

The most popular brands for instant noodles are Nissin Foods Top Ramen and Maruchan. Interestingly, due to its versatility, instant ramen is quite a popular item in US prisons.

Meanwhile, instant ramen in Japan costs a little bit more but is still considered very cheap compared to other food. A cheap ramen pack usually costs ¥200 or $2 per pack.

The more expensive fancy noodles are worth $3. What makes Japanese instant noodles a bit more expensive is the additional toppings included (dried spices, pork, eggs, and even corn.)

Believe it or not, South Korea has some of the biggest instant noodles servings in the world. These packs are called “ramyeon,” and usually include thick dried noodles and powder or sauce seasoning.

Ramyeon usually comes in cup packaging and usually averages at 1,000 won or about $1.

Average price of a real ramen bowl in Japan

The real deal is much more expensive than its dried and instant counterpart. Depending on your ramen, the average cost of real ramen in Japan is about 1,200 yen or about eleven bucks.

If you add more toppings like Chasu pork or eggs, the price can easily go as high as $20.

Additionally, there are Japanese instant noodles that are sought-after by fans.

These instant ramen are usually based on best-selling flavors from popular ramen stores like Ichiran. An Ichiran premium ramen usually costs about 1,500 yen or $14.

Have you ever wondered How Many Ramen Shops There Are in Tokyo?

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.