The Taing family began selling Hokkien noodles from home in the 1980s. The brand took off in the mid 1990s when Coles supermarkets began stocking the product in South Australia.
Within a couple of years the noodles made from Sokhum Taing’s Cambodian recipe were being sold in Coles, Woolworths and independent supermarkets nationally.
“When it first blossomed it was a novelty, Australians had never tried it before outside of a restaurant and suddenly it was available so it exploded,” Taings National Sales Manager Steve Hardacre said.
“The sales were just phenomenal – it was cheap, it was healthy, it was simple – the category in Australia was built by the Taings brand.
“But probably three years after it took off, a large multinational came on the scene with their own brand and basically they took over the category.”
During the boom time, Taings built a noodle factory in the Adelaide suburb of Angle Park and had a second factory making noodles in New South Wales. While the huge volumes of those days have receded, Taings still supplies Woolworths and independent supermarkets in South Australia and Costco nationally.
However, the area of pre-packed meals is driving a resurgence, which has led to Taings achieving 15 per cent growth in the past year.
These brands now account for more than 20 per cent of the business.
Taings will also launch two new products nationally through Costco in August – an Udon noodle and a Pad Thai noodle.
The company is building a new factory, which it expects to move into late this year or early next year, in nearby Wingfield featuring more modern equipment. It has also purchased new equipment for making ambient temperature hokkien noodles.
The new machine, which it bought from Malaysia last year, can make up to 4000 bags of fresh noodles per hour.
Hardacre said the machine was the only one capable of making ambient temperature noodles on a large scale in Australia. He said the noodles kept for up to 12 months and did not require refrigeration, which opened up a new segment of the market and export opportunities.
“What it will do is it will give us a whole new opportunity,” Hardacre said.
“The fresh noodle market in Australia has matured – there are no new users.
“Ambient noodles last for a year and don’t need to be refrigerated so it’s more convenient to use – you can just stick it in your pantry and take it out when you feel like a noodle meal.”
Hardacre said ambient temperature noodles were sold all over the world but only produced in China, Thailand and Korea.
He said Asian consumers recognised the high quality of Australian made foods, helping to drive demand.
“We need to give the consumer the opportunity to buy an Australian made product,” Hardacre said.
“We’ll have it available in Australia but the market is way too small for the capacity of that machine so the real potential for that product is in export, particularly export to Asia and also New Zealand and Europe.”
This article was first published by The Lead.