KATHMANDU: Wai Wai, one of the country’s most renowned brands, has over the years become synonymous with instant noodles in Nepal.
No matter in which form it is consumed, whether straight from the packet, or as a noodle soup, or as the ubiquitous chatpatey, Wai Wai has lived up to its tagline of ‘Hamro Manma Wai Wai’.
One of the USPs of Wai Wai is its affordability. Be it a school going child or a grown up office worker, the brand is affordable for everyone from the Himalayas to the Tarai. Wai Wai, which is available in 15 different mouth-watering flavors, has not only been satiating the cravings of Nepalis but of consumers across five continents today.
Wai Wai, in fact, has become a truly Nepali global brand. Chaudhary Group, which opened its first manufacturing facility in Bhainsepati of Lalitpur, today produces the noodles from eight different locations including Nawalparasi, Bardiya, Sunsari and Kathmandu.
Madhusudan Poudel, general manager of the company, said that the brand is being produced in various countries from neighboring India to Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Europe and the United States, among others.
A daring start
‘Wai Wai’ basically means ‘fast, fast’ in the Thai language and has become a household name in Nepal since it was first introduced 36 years ago. There was a time when Nepalis returning from Japan and Thailand used to carry back noodles with them.
Binod Chaudhary, chairman of the company, was fascinated withnoodles and realized the potential of the noodles market in Nepal. The Chaudhary family owned a flour mill and Himalaya Bahadur Pandey advised Binod Chaudhary to start producing noodles. However, Chaudhary was totally unaware about the intricacies involved in producing noodles and his search for the details led him to Thailand in 1973.
Wai Wai is a brand originally created by Thai Preserved Food Factory in 1974. Apparently, when Chaudhary spoke about his plans, Kitty Pong, managing director of Asian Thai Foods in Thailand, warned him about the high risk of manufacturing 30,000 packets of noodles per day in a small market like Nepal.
However, Chaudhary, who is considered a visionary business leader of Nepal, was willing to take that risk and opened the first manufacturing plant in 1984. Within a few years, he had set up four more plants in Nawalparasi and Bardiya.
Wai Wai goes global
Today,CG is expanding its market presence all over the world by setting up manufacturing plants in various countries. The company said that the brand is popular even in those places where it does not have a manufacturing unit. CG is currently producing around three billion packets of the noodles annually.
Wai Wai at present is sold in more than 32 countries across the world. According to Poudel, Wai Waiholds around three percent share in the global noodles market while it has 51 percent share in Nepal. Similarly, the brand has 27 percent share of the noodles market in India.
The Indian media has reported that the southern region of the country covers 20 percent of India’s instant noodles market, while Karnataka alone covers five percent of India’s market slice. To tap into this demand for instant noodles, Wai Wai is ramping up its business aggressively in Karnataka to increase its existing market share of 12 percent.
The company aims to produce five billion packets of Wai Wai annually which will help it materialize its aim of capturing five percent share of the global market under its vision. Likewise, the company also plans to expand to over 60 countries.
Meanwhile, Wai Wai’s white noodles varieties that include flavors like spinach, tom yum and aloo tama, are in the process of shoring up their standing in the market at the moment.