“Instant noodles for better life-safety, delicacy and convenience” may not be as catchy a motto as the World Instant Noodle Summit intended, but the message was clear.

In Tianjin, China – the nation consumed 42.47 billion packs and cups of instant noodles in 2011, almost half of the total world sales (Japan is the third highest consumer after Indonesia and China, with 5.5 billion packets sold in 2011) – companies from around the world gathered to discuss the future for their snacks, and what they can do for society.

High on the agenda this weekend, as you may have worked out from the motto, were discussions about the “strategic importance of noodles in disaster.” Noodles are good for people who have just experienced disaster, the participants said. Be it for their convenience – an electric kettle or gas flame is needed so we are not 100% sure about this one in the immediate aftermath of a disaster – or their taste, there must be something in it for the consumers.

The World Instant Noodle Association, in fact, sees noodles as seriously important in times of tragedy and has created a fund to enable them to help deal with disasters. At the latest summit, companies including Nissin agreed to add $500,000 to the fund, after noting that 2011 earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand depleted stocks. WINA donated 199,980 packages of instant noodles as emergency rations to flood-stricken Thailand, added to a similar number in Japan.

Nissin Foods Holdings Co. president Koki Ando, who also chairs the association, added, when summing up the declaration to the press, that ”to the victims of disaster, regardless of nationality, a hot bowl of instant noodles affords a sense of relief.” It may not simply be hunger they can cure. “This is what sets instant noodles apart from other emergency foods that just fill the stomach. It is the unique value of instant noodles.”

For some people, the flavour is imprinted on their minds like a childhood memory, and they will go back time and time again to their favourite brands. Comfortingly salty, most people will have at least tried cup noodles but basing our diet around them may not be such a good idea; one cup can provide over 300 calories and 14g of fat, so enjoying in moderation may be the best option!