Recent statistics from Euromonitor International show a dropoff in global, as well as U.S. gum sales. These projections, albeit subject to change, suggest consumers are turning to other confections, specifically mints for oral satisfaction, be it breath freshening, oral hygiene and an energy boost.

A recent Rabobank report, “A Nation of Suckers,” noted that the $4-billion U.S. gum market fell 10 percent in sales and 20 percent in volume during the past five years. As Nicholas Fereday, senior analysts for Rabobank warned, “The gum industry has become unstuck and will need to sink its teeth into some solid marketing ideas in order to reinflate sales.”

Other observers, however, say it’s only a matter of time before gum sales rebound. A new report from Global Industry Analysts projects that gums sales will be “driven by innovative development of sugar-free, soft and chewy gum variants, flavor innnovations and increasing consumption in China and India.”

As expected, gum base suppliers are working hard to develop such innovations. They are also cognizant of the challenges facing the category. As Marta Carbo, marketing specialist for Cafosa, one of the leading suppliers of gum bases in the world, notes, the recent economic crisis has had a significant impact worldwide, but more in specific regions.

“We have information from Euromonitor related to the chewing gum sales increases in markets such as Latin America and Asia Pacific while decreases in areas such as Europe and USA,” she says. “To stimulate sales, chewing gum manufacturers are taking great care in selecting their raw materials and also are innovating in new concepts and in new products.”

Carbo cites chewing gums such as5 from Wrigley and Trident Senses from Mondelez as well asTopline 7 from Arcor, Klast from Batook or Mentos Aqua Kiss from Perfetti.

In addition, Carbo points out that these kinds of products accent the experience the consumer feels when chewing the gum. Gum flavors now appeal to our senses or stimulate experiences. Flavors last longer and give a strong in-mouth sensation.

“At Cafosa we have the most adequate gum bases to produce that kind of  products,” she says. “Chewing that kind of chewing gum became an experience due to its texture and its flavor impact. Our gum bases accept the necessary amount of flavor that gives this strong impact when it is chewed.”

But developments in gum base technology aren’t merely consumer-centric. They also focus on the gum manufacturer.

“Knowing the specific requirements from each type of equipment, we can select the best gum base for each process or even modify the existing ones in order to improve the performance,” Carbo explains. “Improvements in gum bases have  a direct impact on chewing gum production. We develop our gum bases for each kind of production process and we can also design tailored gum bases adapted to our customers’ production lines.”

Cafosa, can play a very important role in new types of chewing gum because they are more technologically dependant, she explains. The ingredients used on the gum base are selected to affect the final performance of the chewing gum during production, as well as the product shelf life.

More and more companies are looking at gum bases as a carrier for nutraceuticals, even medicines.

“We have developed Health in Gum, a directly compressible excipient specially created to produce medicated chewing gum,” Carbo says. “It is a mix of gum base and polyols to which an API (active principal ingredient) can be added to obtain a medicated chewing gum.

“At Cafosa we have several examples worldwide of medicated chewing gums made with Health in Gum,” she adds. “We have developed products that are focused on different pharmaceutical and nutraceutical areas. Health in Gum opens the door to a new oral drug delivery system, one that’s more efficient and comfortable.”

And while most consumers are familiar with nicotine gum, which is considered a medicated gum, the opportunity for gums to combat colds and other common ailments provides an entire new segment for gum manufacturers.

Of course, this will entail stricter regulatory oversight, but it’s nothing that cannot be handled given the ongoing developments in gum base technology.