1.pngEasy to make and cheap to buy, instant noodles have long been China's ultimate convenience food.方便面既容易做又能便宜买到,所以一直是中国最便利的食品。Be it a snack for students, a meal on the train, or just the go-to choice for hungry workers, more than 46.2 billion packets were sold in China in 2013.它是学生们的零食、火车上的一餐,或者只是饥饿的工人们的首选。2013年方便面在中国的销量逾462亿包。But by 2016 those sales had tumbled to 38.5 billion packets, according to the World Instant Noodle Association. That's a drop of almost 17%.然而,世界方便面协会表示,到2016年,方便面的销量已骤降至385亿包,跌幅近17%。Given most other instant noodle markets have remained fairly steady over the past few years - it is an unusual pattern.考虑到在过去的几年里,方便面在其他多数市场上依然保持着相当稳定的销量,而中国市场则是一个罕见的范例。So what's going on? Well here are some theories - which suggest instant noodles could be, in many ways, a great indicator of how China is changing.那么发生了什么呢?以下是几种推测,这也说明,从很多方面来讲,方便面可能是中国正如何做出改变的一个有力的指示器。Aspiration: Customers want better food渴望:顾客想要更好的食品The recipe for instant noodles is fairly straight forward: Just add boiling water, a sachet of sauce, and some small packets of dehydrated vegetables and meat.方便面的做法十分直截了当:你只需要往面里加入沸水、一包酱料以及几小袋脱水蔬菜和肉的调料包即可。As appetising as that sounds, one factor in the slump could well be that some Chinese consumers are upping their expectations in the dining department.方便面就像它听起来那样让人很有食欲,但其销量骤降的一个因素可能是一些中国消费者提高了自己对饮食的期望。The decline of instant noodle sales shows a shift in China's consumption patterns. Consumers are more interested in life quality than just filling their bellies these days.方便面销量的下降也说明了中国消费模式的转变。如今,与只是填饱肚子相比,消费者更注重生活质量。Population shift: Rural workers are going home人口迁移:农民工返乡One of the big consumers of instant noodles - the theory goes - are migrant workers. They are away from home, often living in cramped conditions with limited cooking facilities, and keen to save as much money as they can to send back to their families.从理论上讲,方便面最大的消费者群体之一是农民工。他们离开了家乡,往往生活在烹饪条件有限且拥挤的环境中,而且他们渴望尽可能多地省下一些钱寄回家里去。Until 2014 the number of rural Chinese who had moved to cities had been on the rise.直到2014年,中国涌向城市的农民工的数量还在上涨。But that trend has now reversed for two consecutive years.然而,这种趋势如今已经连续两年朝相反的方向发展了。Travel: Infrastructure improving, habits changing旅行:基础设施的改善和生活习惯的改变Travelling in China 20 years ago, I filled my stomach (and time) by eating pot after pot of instant noodles during cross-country train journeys, which sometimes lasted three days or more.20年前去中国旅行,在跨越全国的火车之旅中,我会一碗接一碗地吃着方便面来填饱肚子(并打发时间),有时候这种旅程会持续3天或更久。But Chinese trains and stations have improved. Journeys are quicker, and the range of food options are far more international - meaning noodle sales on the railways have fallen.然而,中国的火车和车站已经改进了。旅程变得更快了,而且食品选择的范围也更国际化了,这意味着方便面在铁路系统的销量下降了。And then there is the boom in aviation as middle class Chinese people spend billions flying on holidays instead of using trains.另外,中国的航空业也在迅速发展,因为中国的中产阶级花费了上亿元乘飞机度假,而不是通过火车。Smartphones and the internet: There's another form of 'quick food'智能手机和互联网:中国有了另外一种“快餐”About 730 million people in China now have access to the internet. And about 95% of those are using smartphones to connect.如今中国有约7.3亿人可以上网,而且其中95%的人在使用智能手机上网。And apps that offer food delivery to your home, office or wherever you happen to be are a real boom industry.手机上的应用软件可以提供外卖服务,而且可以把食品配送到你的家里、办公室或你所在的任何地方,而这也成为了一个真正繁荣的行业。Their menus are undoubtedly more expensive than a pot of instant noodles. But these meals can still be inexpensive. And arguably more tasty.外卖的饭菜无疑比一碗方便面要贵,但它们还是便宜的,而且可能更美味。Optimism乐观主义But put in the global context China is still the biggest market for instant noodles as this chart shows:但是放眼全球,中国依然是方便面最大的市场,如图所示:Almost three times as many packets were sold in 2016 than in Indonesia.2016年方便面在中国的销量几乎是印度尼西亚的三倍。In fact China's total was roughly the equivalent of Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, India, the US, South Korea and the Philippines combined.事实上,中国的方便面销售总量差不多相当于印度尼西亚、日本、越南、印度、美国、韩国和菲律宾等国家的销量总和。And that means global noodle manufacturers are unlikely to turn away from the Chinese market.这意味着全球的方便面生产商不可能放弃中国市场。"Some consumers stopped consuming instant noodles, but most consumers want to increase the quality (of food they consume)," chief executive Kiyotaka Ando, Japan's instant noodle business Nissin Foods, said.“一些消费者不再购买方便面了,但多数消费者想要提高(自己所购买的食品的)质量,”日本方便面厂商日清食品总裁安藤清隆说道。"We can supply high-quality products so we have more possibility to develop our business."“我们可以提供高质量的产品,所以我们还有更多机会来拓展我们的业务。”