NANNING, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- It's quite unusual for an offbeat dish to gain popularity on a national level, let alone become a sought-after treat around the world.
Nonetheless, the pungent-smelling rice noodles known as Luosifen, which have their roots in the southern Chinese city of Liuzhou, have pleased palates all over the world.
"A total of 43,250 packets of Luosifen will be exported in this batch. The products, which are mainly in original, spicy and tomato flavors, will be shipped to the United States via south China's Guangdong Province," said Ou Haoxuan, general manager of the overseas business department at Guangxi Luobawang Brand Management Co., Ltd., a major Luosifen producer.
Luosifen, or river snail rice noodles, is a signature street food in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It features rice vermicelli soaked in a spicy broth nicely flavored by river snails and topped with ingredients such as pickled bamboo shoots, string beans, peanuts and fried tofu skin.
Thanks to official marketing and e-commerce, the delicacy has already taken the rest of the country by storm. It has also garnered fans globally, with an increasing number of manufacturers flooding international marketplaces to meet rising demand.
"A focus on exports has become an important direction for the company's business development," Ou said.
As one of the pioneers in Luosifen exports, Ou's company saw its noodle export grow 79.5 percent year on year in the first 10 months of 2022, while its export to ASEAN countries skyrocketed by more than 400 percent compared with the same period of the previous year.
From January to October, Liuzhou exported more than 2,060 tonnes of Luosifen, with a total value of 55.78 million yuan (about 7.99 million U.S. dollars), up 65.8 percent and 68.4 percent year on year respectively, according to the customs authorities.
Liuzhou, traditionally an industrial city best known for its steel and automobile manufacturing, has been promoting Luosifen to more and more dining tables for years.
The specialty, which was inscribed on the list of national intangible cultural heritage, has become one of the most sought-after dishes after it was featured in the hit documentary A Bite of China in 2012.
The city started to produce prepackaged Luosifen in 2014, which instantly became a hit. In the first 10 months of this year, the sales revenue of packaged Luosifen hit 15.3 billion yuan, up 21.65 percent compared with the same period last year, data from the Liuzhou Municipal Commerce Bureau showed.
"Luosifen products from Liuzhou were exported to overseas markets for the first time in 2016. As of this October, 40 noodle manufacturing enterprises in the city had obtained export certification for foods," said Tang Jiwen, head of the Liuzhou Luosifen Association, adding that the prepackaged noodle dish has been exported to more than 20 countries and regions including the United States, Canada, Australia and Malaysia.
Since the beginning of this year, the local government in Liuzhou has rolled out a string of guidelines and measures to further standardize Luosifen production and help the noodle makers better understand the prevailing international trade standards in order to expand exports.
One of the challenges facing Luosifen exporters is meeting various customs inspection requirements. "The customs authorities formulated guidance documents on Luosifen exports, which has been of great assistance to us. For instance, we adjusted the raw material composition and production lines of noodles as some countries bar certain animal-sourced ingredients," Ou said.
From January to October, the sales revenue of the Luosifen industry chain in Liuzhou exceeded 48.37 billion yuan, up 16.48 percent year on year, data from the Liuzhou Municipal Commerce Bureau showed.
"Liuzhou will make every effort to promote the internationalization of Luosifen, boost noodle exports, and help enterprises reduce unnecessary losses caused by unfamiliarity with international rules so that our Luosifen brand may expand its presence overseas," said Lu Shichang, an official with the bureau.