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Spicing up the world: Samyang’s Buldak series makes global waves

Buoyed by upbeat sales in China, US, Korean food giant eyes foray into Japan, Southeast Asia, Middle East as next strategic markets

Nov. 30, 2023 - 14:44 By Kim Hae-yeon
A promotional booth for the Buldak product lineup is set up on the sidelines of a concert by K-pop sensation BTS in Las Vegas in April 2022. (Samyang Roundsquare)

South Korean food giant Samyang Roundsquare, under the leadership of CEO Kim Jung-soo, has been avidly pursuing its global market strategy, particularly focusing on key regions such as China and the US.

With China contributing to 35 percent of overseas sales, the company is intensifying efforts to expand to the US, Europe and Southeast Asia, identified as the next growth drivers.

During China's Singles Day shopping festival from late October to November, Samyang Roundsquare reached record sales of 13.2 billion won ($10.2 million), a 40 percent upturn from the previous year. The success was attributed to strategic partnerships with Alibaba,, and newer platforms like Douyin, Kuaishou and Pinduoduo.

On top of the most popular Buldak series, Samyang's diverse ramyeon product portfolio, including Samyang Ramyeon and Chacharoni, also played a significant role in driving overall sales growth.

The standout performer at the festival was the Buldak Ramyeon's "Sweet and Spicy Korean Chicken Flavor" launched exclusively for Chinese consumers, to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the Buldak series' Chinese debut. The product seamlessly blends a spicy chicken flavor with the signature Buldak noodles, and became a rapid success, topping flagship store rankings.

Meanwhile, during the sixth 2023 China International Import Expo held from Nov. 5-10, Samyang Roundsquare held interviews with some 20 Chinese media outlets, including CGTN, ICS and Xinhua. Through these interactions, Kim, the Samyang Roundsquare CEO, highlighted the importance of the Chinese market, deliberated on future business opportunities, and conveyed a steadfast commitment to targeting the market.

Samyang Roundsquare CEO Kim Jung-soo (fourth from left) attends the 2023 China International Import Expo held in Shanghai in November. (Samyang Roundsquare)

Samyang Roundsquare's upcoming initiatives include enhancing its footprint in the Chinese market through investments in researching local preferences and demands. The company aims to establish a Chinese subsidiary of Samyang Logistics, with the goal of manufacturing and directly distributing Samyang's ramyeon products in China. The strategic move is anticipated to significantly lower delivery costs.

Additionally, the company is seeking to accelerate growth in the all-important US market, introducing localized products to suit the tastes of local consumers. Initiatives like the launch of its soup noodle brand Picantia, reflect the company's commitment to localization.

During this year's third quarter, the company's cumulative sales in the US surged to $87.6 million, reflecting a 142 percent year-on-year increase.

Such substantial growth was mainly propelled by the expansion of customer touchpoints. The brand successfully established itself not only with retail giants Walmart and Costco, but also gained a foothold in Kroger and Albertsons Market, which are prominent supermarket chains in the US.

Samyang Roundsquare's activities further extend to Japan, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, with the CEO exploring long-term investment opportunities in Europe. The strategy includes local recruitment, business development and the establishment of new bases.

"In the future, we plan to target the overseas market through synergy between affiliates such as Samyang Aani and Samyang Logistics," an official from Samyang Roundsquare said. Samyang Aani is a content commerce platform established in 2021, which focuses on Samyang's product-related stories and online content.

In the third quarter, Samyang Roundsquare experienced remarkable growth, with consolidated sales and operating profit soaring. Overseas sales constituted 72 percent of the total, achieving a record-breaking 200 billion won in exports.