November 17, 2014 By

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Meet The Manufacturer: Interview With Monde Nissin – Lucky Me!

Interview With Monde Nissin * Product Samples From Monde Nissin (1) * Product Samples From Monde Nissin (2)Lucky Me!  Instant Pancit Canton (Chow Mein) Chili & CitrusLucky Me! La Paz Batchoy Instant Noodle SoupLucky Me! Special Baked Mac Style Instant MacaroniLucky Me! Chicken Na Chicken Instant NoodlesFriday Video: Food Journey Philippines *

I’ve been talks with the folks at Monde Nissin since July on doing a Meet The Manufacturer – and here it is! Monde Nissin is located in the Philippines and is well known for their Lucky Me! product line. Here is the interview I conducted over email with Abigail Moreno of their Corporate Communications Team:

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you for agreeing to this interview! To start, can you tell my readers about the history of Monde Nissin?

MONDE NISSIN> Monde Nissin has been providing Filipino consumers with high quality products and excellent service for almost 35 years. It started with biscuit manufacturing in 1979, with Nissin Butter Coconut and Nissin Wafer as its initial product offering.

To further its thrust, in 1989, Monde Nissin entered the instant noodles market with Lucky Me! as its carrying brand.  Flagship variants Lucky Me! Beef na Beef and Chicken na Chicken Mami (noodle soup in pouch) were launched.

To create distinction from its competitors, in 1991 Lucky Me! pioneered the soup-less noodles segment with its introduction of Lucky Me! Pancit Canton (Philippine version of Chow Mien or stir-fried noodles), now the most popular instant noodle brand in the Philippines.

Lucky Me! continues to innovate, as such in 1995 Lucky Me! introduced the first ever cup noodles – Lucky Me! Supreme.  It offers authentic adaptation of Filipino favorite dishes such as La Paz Batchoy (pork-flavored noodle soup with pork crackling) and Bulalo (long boiled beef bones and marrow).

From then on, Lucky Me! became the undisputed and formidable market leader.  Today, Lucky Me!  is the Most Chosen FMCG Brand in the Philippines (Brand Foot Print Report 2014, Kantar Worldpanel) dislodging global brand Nescafe in the top spot.

While Monde Nissin has gained lion’s share in the instant noodles category, the company also grew its biscuit product portfolio with brands such as Bingo Cookie Sandwich and Eggnog Cookies.  Monde Nissin also introduced Voice Combo Cracker in 2005, the first wafer-cracker combination sandwich in the market. The company further expanded its biscuit product offering by forging a partnership with cracker pioneer and industry giant M.Y. San Corporation, makers of the iconic Filipino cracker brand Sky Flakes. With these feats, Monde Nissin has also become a leading player in the biscuit category.

Having grown its business in the noodles and biscuits category, Monde Nissin also expanded to other categories such as the Packaged Cake through Monde Special Mamon (sponge cake), and Culinary through Lucky Me! Nam Nam all-in-one seasoning.

Leveraging on Monde Nissin’s strength in distribution and in marketing, it also formed strategic partnerships with other companies.  Monde Nissin is the exclusive marketing and distribution arm in the Philippines of Dutch Mill – one of the leading yogurt drink brand in Southeast Asia, and of Mama Sita’s – a favorite Filipino culinary brand in the Philippines.

More recently, Monde Nissin also established businesses in Thailand and Australia, taking on the challenge to make a distinct mark on the global landscape of the Food manufacturing industry.

THE RAMEN RATER> What was the first product you made?

MONDE NISSIN> Monde Nissin started out as a biscuit manufacturer and the first product made was Nissin Butter Coconut, which until today remains to be one of the best-selling biscuits in the market. Specific to Lucky Me! instant noodles, the first products were the Beef and Chicken Instant Mami (noodle soup) which were introduced in 1989, and now the fastest selling variants in the country.

THE RAMEN RATER> Your company is located in the Philippines. Can you tell us a little about life there?

MONDE NISSIN> The Philippines is an archipelago located at the heart of Southeast Asia. Considered by experts as one of the best performing economies in the Asian region.  Our country is poised to hit the demographic sweet spot in the coming years, that is, when majority of the population is set to join the workforce. This will translate to a more empowered consumer base, and consequently, drive consumption and investment growth. This, along with growth in BPO workforce and a thriving tourism industry, among others, are predicted by experts to sustain the momentum of the country as one of the emerging economies on this side of the globe.

Moreover, as an archipelago, the 7,107 islands show a variety of landscapes such as city centers, mountainous rainforests, and beaches, which are regarded to be some of the best in the world. Being a tropical country in the Pacific, its islands are home to abundant natural resources and to one of the world’s most diverse wildlife. Meanwhile, the Philippine culture can be described as a mix of its own indigenous traditions combined with practices from Asian and Western countries. Filipinos are also regarded as one of the happiest and most hospitable people in the world, making the Philippines a top tourist destination.

One of the special attributes associated with Filipino people is the love for food. And food is even more enjoyed when shared with family and loved ones, whether in a simple shared meal in the household or in a get-together for a lavish town festival (locally called fiestas) in the province. Interestingly, it is actually in the simple moments of togetherness that Lucky Me! made a mark as a top choice for an affordable, convenient and delicious food fix for the whole family.

THE RAMEN RATER> Can you tell us about the varieties of instant noodles you make? Do you have any new varieties?

MONDE NISSIN> Lucky Me! offers a wide range of delicious and exciting flavors that cater to the diverse preference of consumers.

Lucky Me! Pancit Canton (soup-less noodles) is the biggest brand in the Lucky Me! portfolio. Pancit Canton Original is its flagship variant which is intended to appeal to a wide range of consumers from kids to adults.  The more popular variants though are those with the added taste of favorite Filipino condiments such as Kalamansi (citrus flavor), Extra Hot Chili, Chilimansi (spicy citrus flavor) and Sweet & Spicy flavors. And for those who are looking for excitement when they eat their favorite pancit canton, there’s Lucky Me! Krak Krak – pancit canton with crunchy crackling bits as toppings.

Not far behind is Lucky Me! Mami (noodles with soup) whose most popular flavors are Beef and Chicken. It also offers Spicy Hot Beef, Pork Ribs, Beef Spareribs, Itnok (chicken and egg) and N-Rich (chicken with malunggay or moringa). The Instant Mami line also provides an option for health-conscious consumers with Lucky Me! Lite, as it offers the same great taste of well-loved Beef and Chicken flavors but made with 30% less sodium.

For those who are on-the-go, there’s Lucky Me! Supreme cup noodles.  Available in soup-less and with soup formats but the latter is more popular among consumers.  Two of its best-selling soup-based variants, La Paz Batchoy (pork-flavored noodle soup with pork crackling) and Bulalo (long boiled beef bones and marrow) are adapted from authentic flavors of popular local dishes. Other available soup-based flavors are Special Beef, Pinoy Chicken (native chicken), Seafood, Jjamppong (spicy Korean noodles), and Chicken Sotanghon (vermicelli in chicken soup) flavors.  While for the soup-less flavors, there’s Lucky Me! Chow Mien Spicy Beef and Seafood.

And for those moments of small celebrations, there is Lucky Me! Special, a line with distinct noodle forms and flavors.   Its variants include authentic adaptation of popular noodle and pasta dishes.  (1) Filipino flavors Lomi, Palabok, Bihon, Sotanghon and Sopas (chicken macaroni soup) (2) Asian flavor Jjamppong (spicy Korean noodles) (3) Pasta dishes such as Baked Mac, Mac n Cheez, and Curly Spaghetti.

THE RAMEN RATER> How does your noodle making process differ from other instant noodle manufacturers?

MONDE NISSIN> What sets Lucky Me! apart is the strong commitment to be consumer-centric. Even in the beginning, it was with this mindset that the company delved deep into the Filipino food culture and lifestyle as well as their attitudes and habits in eating.  Armed with relevant insights and ideas, it meticulously developed authentic-tasting flavors that will be made affordable to the market, something that wasn’t available then. With this, Lucky Me! is proudly the first noodle manufacturer in the Philippines to successfully capture the real taste of Filipino favorites such as Bulalo (long boiled beef bones and marrow) and La Paz Batchoy (pork-flavored noodle soup with pork crackling), and the best-tasting Beef and Chicken noodle soups, among others.

Aside from this, Lucky Me! is the only brand in the instant noodles market with the NAPA or No Artificial Preservatives Added seal. This means that Lucky Me! noodles are kept fresh until consumption through the use of natural antioxidants only.

Another factor that makes Lucky Me! different from other noodle manufacturers is the technology behind its noodle production. The noodle production plant houses state-of-the-art machineries which enable full automation of production systems, ensuring consistency in product quality with minimal to no human intervention. The Lucky Me! Noodle Factory is also the first noodle factory in the Philippines to open its doors to the public who are eager to learn more about the noodle-making process the Lucky Me! way.

THE RAMEN RATER> Are instant noodles the only products you make?

MONDE NISSIN> Lucky Me! is Monde Nissin’s flagship brand but the company has also established leadership in the highly competitive biscuit market. Its biscuit portfolio is composed of leading brands in their respective segments. The Nissin brand, popular among moms and kids as a school snack, is a leader in the Wafer and Cookie segment. For Sandwiches, Monde Nissin introduced innovations with Voice Combo, the first cracker-wafer combination sandwich, and Voice Pops, the first sandwich with popping candies in its filling. Monde Nissin also leads the cookie sandwich category with Bingo.

Aside from these, Monde Nissin is also a major player in the baked goods and seasoning categories. Its product line Monde offers the first premium-quality sponge cake and other baked goods made affordable for consumers. Meanwhile, Lucky Me! NamNam is an all-in-one seasoning product which marked the company’s first step in entering the culinary solutions category.

THE RAMEN RATER> A lot of people are concerned with their sodium intake. How would you recommend people enjoy your product as part of a healthy meal?

MONDE NISSIN> Monde Nissin recognizes the importance of taking care of one’s health. Like with any other food product, instant noodles should be eaten in moderation and complemented with a variety of food to make a holistic diet.  We share this tip to our consumers  in our packaging.

In addition, Monde Nissin also saw the need of consumers to have more options that will fit into their chosen lifestyles, which include dietary considerations. In furthering this thrust, Lucky Me! introduced Lucky Me! Lite the first ever instant noodles with 30% less sodium but still maintaining the original taste of favorites Beef and Chicken mami that consumers love.

THE RAMEN RATER> Are you involved in in your local community or participate in charities?

MONDE NISSIN> Monde Nissin dedicates time to be involved in local community in line with the company’s mission to uplift lives of the people we serve. Through Lucky Me!, Monde Nissin champions the formation of good habits and strengthening of values that are integral to building a happy and tightly-knit family.

Since 2007, Lucky Me!  annually runs an advocacy campaign called Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga (Family Mealtime Matters), which upholds the value of eating together as a family. One big feat for the brand was having every 4th Monday of September officially declared as Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga Day through Presidential Proclamation 326. The advocacy was inspired by the longstanding Filipino tradition of sharing common mealtime, which, according to studies, can be a perfect window to reconnect and bond with the family. Research showed that children who regularly eat with their parents are more likely to lead happy, healthy, and successful lives. However, due to the increasing demand in working hours, long commutes, and other distractions, Filipino parents’ time with their children during dinner get substantially cut down. Through this advocacy, Lucky Me! reminds and encourages parents to regularly join their children for dinner and be actively involved in their lives.

Aside from this, Lucky Me! also promotes active lifestyle and good values among kids through the Pack and Play school activity. Lucky Me! recognizes that physical activity is vital for a child’s development as it lays the foundation for an active and healthy life. Through this project, Lucky Me! encourages kids to engage in active play while learning about good values and right conduct.

Lastly, being a country in the Pacific, the Philippines experiences an average of 20 natural disasters in a year, including earthquakes and typhoons. During these times, Monde Nissin responds to the needs of people affected by calamities by partnering with credible and established organizations dedicated to relief operations and community rebuilding.

THE RAMEN RATER> In what countries are your products popular?

MONDE NISSIN> Lucky Me! is currently present  in 39 countries. Among these countries, the biggest markets outside the Philippines are the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, and the US

THE RAMEN RATER> When you make noodles for yourself, what do you like to add to them to make them extra special?

MONDE NISSIN> My personal favorite way of preparing Lucky Me! noodles would be whipping up egg drop soup using Lucky Me! Mami Beef flavor – a different take on flavor but just as tasty as the soup made with chicken-flavored noodles. For the stir-fried noodles, I like combining Lucky Me! Pancit Canton with hotdog, ham, and Filipino meat products like tapa (cured beef) and longganisa (sausage).

THE RAMEN RATER> Thank you very much for this opportunity to learn about Monde Nissin and your products!

With that, we begin Meet The Manufacturer! I want to thank Abigail Moreno for the interview and Gen Dela Pena for facilitating samples as well as everyone else at Monde Nissin! Let’s check out their products!

Interview With Monde Nissin * Product Samples From Monde Nissin (1) * Product Samples From Monde Nissin (2)Lucky Me!  Instant Pancit Canton (Chow Mein) Chili & CitrusLucky Me! La Paz Batchoy Instant Noodle SoupLucky Me! Special Baked Mac Style Instant MacaroniLucky Me! Chicken Na Chicken Instant NoodlesFriday Video: Food Journey Philippines *

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.
November 21, 2014 By

Meet The Manufacturer: Friday Video: Food Journey Philippines

Here’s a documentary dealing with the food culture of the Philippines! I thought it would be very fitting to explore the foods of the Philippines while reviewing foods from a Filipino manufacturer! Happy Friday! More reviews coming tomorrow!

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.
November 20, 2014 By

Meet The Manufacturer: Re-Review: Lucky Me! Chicken Na Chicken Instant Noodles

Chicken instant noodles are known the world over. In fact the first instant noodles ever sold were chicken flavored! Seems like chicken is a very accessible flavor for people. I reviewed this one over 3 years ago the first time – let’s see how Chicken na Chicken by Lucky Me! fares this time around!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). To prepare, add noodle block to 2 cups of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Add in soup base and garnish and stir. Enjoy!

The noodle block.

The soup base sachet.

Has a strong chicken scent.

The garnish sachet.

Has kind of a garlic and fried onion scent.

 

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added grilled chicken and sliced green onion. The noodles have a nice comfort food quality to them. They’re not as firm as many, but they are more what you would expect in a chicken soup. The broth has a strong saltiness and good chicken flavor. It also has a nice bit of surface tension and consistency which makes it something I would say is tantamount for perfection if you’re looking for some relief for a winter cold. The garnish adds a nice little onion and garlic taste. 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4807770190995.

Get your Chicken Na Chicken here!

Here’s a TV spot for Lucky Me! Chicken Na Chicken. One thing you’ll notice is noodles are ferred to as ‘mami.’ This is yet another term in the world for instant noodles – mee in Malaysia, mie and mi in Indonesia.

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.
November 19, 2014 By

Meet The Manufacturer: #1527: Lucky Me! Special Baked Mac Style Instant Macaroni

Macaroni is used in a lot of Filipino cuisine. One I’ve tried in instant form is Sopas, a soup with macaroni in it. The weather here is really quite cold (at least for Washington). It’s gotten down to as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit the last few nights. This looks like a nice warm stick-to-your-ribsy kind of thing. Let’s check it out!

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, add macaroni to briskly boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Drain. Add in sachet contents and combine. Enjoy!

A large sachet of noodles.

Kind of like a rotini tube macaroni.

The sauce sachet.

Smells pretty good!

 

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added thin sliced beef I sauteed and coriander. The noodles have a nice shape and chew to them. The sauce is very good – it has a sweetness and tomato flavor and is frequently augmented with bits of textured vegetable protein which are just like little bits of real hamburger. This was a very pleasant surprise. 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4807770273049.

The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey—from Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond

A TV commercial for Lucky Me! Special Baked Mac Instant Macaroni.

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.