A Full Pack of Innovations!

by Jenny Welbel
Recent technology has paved the way for dynamic fruit flavors and functional gums.
“Now see, this is what the holidays are all about­—three buddies sitting around, chewing gum,” exclaims Kramer during an episode of the “Seinfeld” television series.
While the Kramer comment may humorously overstate the significance of chewing gum, most would agree that this common pastime is indeed a popular culture constant. Gum is in the supermarket, at the movies and even on television.
Trends in the gum industry are continually changing, however. Whether it is sugar-free gum, functional gum or flavor-bursting gum, there is always something new designed to fuel sales.
Gum sales in food, drug and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) shot up 5.7 percent to $903 million for the 52-week period ending May 16, 2004, according to Information Resources Inc. data. Sugarless gum accounts for the majority of sales, $602 million; that figure climbed 12.2 percent, while sales of regular gum decreased by 5.4 percent.
From functional to fruity
One emerging trend in the gum industry is functional gum—gum that delivers a specific benefit to the consumer. “We are seeing more gum with functional ingredients and benefits being marketed to the general population,” reports Laurie Lichko, director of marketing at Ford Gum & Machine Co., Akron, N.Y.
Tom Moeller, vice president of sales and customer development at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Chicago, agrees with Lichko. “Functional gum is only 5 percent of the business, but it will continue to grow,” says Moeller. “It is not just a fad or a short-lived trend.”
 “Functional gum creates a whole other reason to buy gum,” acknowledges Kevin Gass, co-founder of Gum Runners, LLC, Hackensack, N.J. That is precisely why Gass and his colleague, T. Molloy, created Jolt, a caffeinated gum. In addition to caffeine, Jolt contains guarana and ginseng, ingredients also said to enhance energy. Two pieces of gum deliver a boost equivalent to one cup of coffee, according to the Gum Runners marketers.
Continuing the functional gum trend, Ovalette Brands, New Rochelle, N.Y., has introduced mentholated gums available in Mint Chill and Honey Lemon flavor varieties. “The mentholated gum is great for smokers because it is so powerful,” points out Deana DiCapua, account executive for Ovalette. “It has also proved to help people with allergies and sore throats,” DiCapua adds.
The American Gum Company, Ypsilanti, Mich., has also come out with mentholated gums, which it offers in cherry, apricot, eucalyptus and peach flavors. “We wanted to provide smokers with a strong flavor that will take away the tobacco and cigarette odor,” says American Gum Co. CEO Mike Savage.
While Ovalette and American Gum focus on mentholated gum, Ford Gum has introduced a new calcium-added gum, Cow Power Calcium Rich Chewing Gum targeted to women 35 and older and their children. “Women are told to add calcium to their diets at a younger age now,” Lichko points out. “Calcium pills are large and hard to swallow, so the idea of taking calcium in the form of chewing gum was so appealing to them.” As more Americans tend to rush though their days, barely finding time to even eat a healthy meal, functional gum marketers are hoping that consumers will turn to these gums as a convenient and practical option for improving their diets.
Long-lasting, strong fruit-flavored gums also are coming on strong. “There is going to be a huge trend towards the development of different fruit gums, a lot of citruses, tangerines, and berry gums,” says DiCapua.
“There is a strong consumer desire for long-lasting fruit flavor in the gum category,” agrees Victoria Lozano, brand director for Cadbury Adams’ Dentyne brand. “We developed Dentyne Tango to directly meet that market need.” The first sugarless fruit pellet gum in the Dentyne product line-up, Dentyne Tango uses proprietary technology to create an intense, long-lasting fruit flavor without the use of menthol.
Cadbury Adams’ new Trident Tropical Twist is a tropical fruit-flavored, sugarless gum. “Fruit-flavored gum is the second biggest flavor segment in the category, and we want to provide consumers with a fresh, new fruit flavor that really lasts,” notes Richard Yoder, senior brand manager, Trident.
Wrigley has long been a leader in the fruit gum market with its Juicy Fruit Gum, and recently the company added fruit flavors within its Eclipse brand lineup (i.e. Lemon Ice and Cherry Chill).
Although large companies dominate this category, smaller players, including American Gum Company, manage to compete by staying abreast of production and formulation technology in areas such as micro-encapsulation. “The technology incorporates tiny capsules inside the gum that break up as a consumer chews, consistently releasing flavor,” says Savage.
Taking the heat off
Many of the new gums currently on the market would not be possible without the help of com-pressed powder gum technology like that supplied by Gum Base Co., which is headquartered in Italy. The process involves producing a powder gum, which is then compressed on conventional compressing equipment, explains Marco Bootz, sales and marketing manager for Gum Base Co. “Because it is a cold process, flavors and ingredients that might be affected by heat are better preserved,” Bootz explains.
“The new technology is ideal for confectionery companies that want to make a chewing gum that is different, with unique shapes, intense flavors and long-lasting release characteristics and containing functional ingredients,” says Bootz.
“With compressed powder gum, it is possible to supercharge a chewing gum with as much as three times the amount of citric acid or flavor without destroying the gum texture,” explains Nikolai Brohawetzki, managing director of Gum Base Co.
Milwaukee-based Schuster Marketing Corp., maker of Blitz Power Gum, also uses a compression process. “With compression, you can precisely measure ingredients, and without the heat, the efficacy of the active ingredients remains intact and has long-lasting flavor,” says Steven Schuster, company president.
“Compressed chewing gum is the new generation of chewing gum technology,” summarizes Bootz.
Packaged for perfection
Blister packs have played a major role in the gum category in recent years. Not only does this packaging format keep gum sealed and fresh after opening, but it has also significantly increased average selling price for a pack of gum, says Lichko of Ford Gum Co.
“Blister packaging is a unique way to package gum because it creates a billboard effect in which gum companies have a bigger package to write more information on,” says Schuster. He adds that, “Consumers and retailers alike enjoy blister packaging because the packaging is pocket-friendly and enables consumers to share a piece of gum without actually having to touch the gum itself.”
Despite the current popularity of the blister pack, there are companies, such as Glee Gum, Providence, R.I., that have opted to go a different route. The company’s packaging features a retro look with its child-like character smiling on the front.
“Prior to World War II, gum was all natural,” says Glee’s Deborah Schineberg. “We wanted our consumers to understand that that is how our gum is made, so we brought them back to the past with our retro-chic packaging.”
Ovalette, on the other hand, has taken a nontraditional approach with its packaging.  “Ovalette took a blister pack and cut it in half,” says DiCapua. “We stacked the packs on top of each other and shrink wrapped them together.” This makes it easier for consumers to split the pack.” n
If Only Willy Wonka Had Thought of It First
Chocolate gum sounds like a concept that might have come straight out of the fictional world of Willy Wonka. Now it’s a reality, however, thanks to the efforts of entrepreneurs Neil Wyant and Michael Gurin. Their company, Northfield, Ill.-based, O’lala Foods, last year introduced Choco’la, which they are billing as the first chocolate gum.
"There has been a problem in the confectionary industry with putting high-fat-content ingredients, like chocolate, into a gum," says Wyant, the company president. "Because of the oils, the gum base itself would fall apart." Wyant’s partner, Gurin, an inventor, challenged himself to create a long-lasting, flavor-filled chocolate gum, and Choco’la Gum was born.
The company employs a variety of patented technologies to create a gum that has the mouthfeel of chocolate without manufacturing problems. Their proprietary process uses encapsulation and RST technology, which is a creamy flavor system.
O’lala comes in a 12-piece blister pack designed to convey an upscale image. Sugar-free and lowfat, the gum is targeted toward the adult market.
Gum That Will Burst Your Bubble
What do Juicy Mullet, Tattle Tale, and Wanna Kiss all have in common? They are innovative gums from Blue Q, Hawthorne, Mass. The company has designed a line of specialty gums that feature unique, sometimes risqué, but almost always amusing, text and designs on the packaging. Currently, there are 35 gums in the product line that feature everything from ex-boyfriend gum to anti-George Bush gum. The company plans to keep up a steady flow of new gum rollouts.  
"Originally we had done magnets, cardboard cutouts and a beauty line known as Dirty Girl, but we wanted to do something a little different with the gum," says Heather Wendling, manager of awareness at Blue Q.
"We have tried to cover all the bases with everything we do," notes Wendling. "The great thing about our gum is that it has a novelty appeal to it. It is an impulse buy; when people see it in line at the grocery store, they will want to pick it up," she adds.
Upon Blue Q’s grand debut at the Fancy Food Show, Wendling notes that, "Everyone was in shock. A lot of people have never seen anything quite like our gum."
Despite how surprised everyone was by the sometimes R-rated gum, one can bet that Blue Q will continue to make people laugh with its interesting and creative designs.
Available in a variety of flavors, the gum currently is sold in independent gift and candy stores domestically and internationally.