Instant noodle demand boils over as coronavirus stirs fear

By Dat Nguyen   March 5, 2020 | 10:39 pm PT
Instant noodle demand boils over as coronavirus stirs fear
Instant noodles products are displayed in a supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Shutterstock/Ho Su A Bi.
Instant noodle consumption in Vietnam has surged 67 percent amid the coronavirus epidemic as locals stock up on food to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Other instant food that saw rising demand include frozen food (up 40 percent) and sterilized sausage (up 19 percent), market research firm Nielsen Vietnam reported, using data from February 3-9 compared to the average of 52 preceding weeks. Vietnam declared the coronavirus outbreak an epidemic on February 1.

The report stated the outbreak sparked up sales of personal hygiene products like mouth wash (up 78 percent), body and hand wash (up 45 percent), and facial tissues (up 35 percent).

There were declines in consumption of fresh meat, vegetables, beer and soft drinks, it added.

Many restaurants have reported dwindling revenues since the outbreak as customers refrain from gathering in public places to avoid contagion.

"There is an obvious impact of Covid-19 on consumer habits, however we can expect a quick recovery given the high level of consumer confidence in Vietnam," said Nguyen Anh Dung, Nielsen Vietnam head of Retail Measurement Services.

Consumers remain optimistic amid the epidemic, with a Nielsen Vietnam survey showing 95 percent of respondents believe the virus would not spread in the country.

Most indicated the epidemic would be contained within two or three months, according to the survey, which polled 500 consumers in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang City in February.

However, people are noticing the impact of the outbreak on their lives. 70 percent of respondents said they had to re-evaluate their travel plans, while 60 percent having to adjust their entertainment activities.

Half of respondents said they reduced supermarket and traditional market visits, while a quarter spent more time shopping online.

Four out of 10 respondents said their incomes had been negatively impacted by the disease. Officials have forecast the epidemic could drag Vietnam’s 2020 GDP growth to a seven-year low.

Vietnam has recorded a total of 16 coronavirus patients, all of whom have recovered and been discharged from hospital. The country has reported no new infections since February 13.

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