Sugar-free gums with added benefits are continuing to flourish thanks to new product innovations.

“Make it healthy, make it exciting and make it easy.” Those are the three top food and snacking trends asserts Jim Cali, Cadbury global gum category director.

According to a Mintel study (Jan. 11, 2008 – Jan. 11, 2009), low/no/reduced sugar gum outperforms all other confectionery claims, holding the number one spot in the world. Moreover, these sugar-free gums, along with functional gums, are expected to continue growing through 2013, reports Euromonitor.

That really isn’t surprising given sugar-free gum’s versatility and ability to deliver functional benefits. Upon conducting various studies concerning the benefits of chewing gum, Wrigley has found that chewing gum can help with weight management, oral health, stress and concentration (see sidebar).

On top of “making it healthy,” Wrigley makes it “tasty” by focusing on trendy fruit flavors. In December 2008, Wrigley launchedOrbit Strawberry Mint and Positively Pomegranate. Additionally, the company plans to introduce other fruity gum flavors in March 2009, includingExtra Fruit Sensations in flavors Berry Smoothie and Mango Smoothie. Also in March, the company will introduce newOrbit Mist gum with Micro Burst technology, which reveals a hydrating sensation when chewed. The gum will be offered in Watermelon Spring, Mango Surf and Peppermint Spray flavors.

“In addition to the popularity of fruit-flavored products, category innovation continues to be fueled by new packaging and brand extensions,” says Jennifer Luth, manager, marketing communications for Wrigley.

With many of Wrigley’s gum products turning to slim packs, the company followed through with convenience and quantity in itsOrbit Big Pak. Containing 35 pieces in one envelope, the pack is small enough to fit in consumers’ pockets while offering enough gum to last a while.

To make its products healthy, Cadbury offersTrident Xtra CarewithRecaldent (a form of calcium that strengthens and rebuilds tooth enamel). Currently,Trident Xtra Careis available in Peppermint and Cool Mint flavors and this year, the company will introduce the gum in Spearmint flavor.

Cadbury also featuresStride,Trident White(clinically proven to whiten teeth and prevent stains) andTrident Splash, Cali says.

As one of the top chewing gum flavors, fruit is featured in the liquid centers of the company’s sugar-freeTrident Splashgum. Cadbury also mixes popular fruit flavors with the global top flavor of chewing gum - Mint (according to a Mintel report, Jan. 11, 2008 – Jan. 11, 2009). For example,Trident Passionberry Twistcombines Passion Fruit, Blackberry, Raspberry and Spearmint flavors.

“Fruit-flavored sugar-free chewing gum is growing because it appeals to calorie-conscious consumers,” says Dan Marquardt, Mentos USA marketing director, “and new innovative breath-freshening products continue to be well-received.”

Like Cadbury, Perfetti Van Melle is taking advantage of the growing popularity of fruit flavors with its sugar-freeMentos Gum. Last year,Mentos GumRed Fruit made its debut. Most recently, the company introducedMentos Pure Fresh Gumwith Green Tea extract in Fresh Mint and Wintergreen flavors. Perfetti Van Melle is also introducingMentos Gumin Tropical and Watermelon flavors thanks to the success of its Red Fruit flavor.

In order to “make it easy” for consumers, Mentos packages its gum in pocket bottles with flip-top lids. This offers portability and convenience for consumers.

Add functionality to profitability and convenience, and consumers take interest.

“We’re really trying to work with the name ‘Bonus’ to give the consumer more from the chewing gum experience,” says Jay Klein, president of Bonus! Gum. “Whether that’s by [developing] new flavors, [adding] health benefits or [giving] value – those are the areas that we’re going to cover.”

With the popularity of energy drinks increasing, it’s no surprise that gum manufacturers are buzzing about this functional trend. (Click onCandy Industry Plusat for more on energy gum) Bonus! Gum, for instance, recently introduced an Energy variety featuring taurine and guarana. To avoid a bitter taste, this gum does not contain any caffeine, according to the company.

And while consumers are looking for functional chewing gum, they’re also looking for new flavors and health benefits, as mentioned earlier.

Bonus! Gum’s most recent offerings include flavors Green Tea, Cranberry and Energy. One piece of Green Tea flavored gum delivers the same amount of antioxidants as two cups of green tea. The company’s Cranberry chewing gum also features antioxidant properties by infusing real cranberries into the gum.

“The consumer is becoming more sophisticated,” says Dr. Bob Thistle, chief chemist, B Fresh, Inc. “They’re starting to read the ingredients on packages and they’re starting to appreciate things that are healthy.”

With 100% natural ingredients,Solar Energy Gumis about as healthy as functional gum gets. The gum is sweetened with the naturally occurring sugar substitute xylitol, which is derived from birch trees. It does not contain any dyes, preservatives, additives, artificial flavors or colors and is GMO-free, kosher, vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and safe for diabetics. In addition to its health benefits, the gum energizes its consumers through antioxidants, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, taurine and ginseng. According to studies, these functional ingredients are also healthful in that vitamin B6 may increase metabolism; taurine may promote muscle growth; Asian ginseng may reduce stress and improve memory; vitamin B12 may promote cell growth and fight diabetes; and vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis, among other benefits.Solar Energy Gumcomes in Peppermint Planet, Moon Melon, Satellite Cinnamon, Spectacular Spearmint and Planet Wild Berry flavors.

The company also offersB Freshbranded gum in flavors Cinnamon, Bubble Gum, Lemon, Fruit and Spearmint. These sugar-free gums are sweetened with xylitol and fortified with calcium and B 12 vitamins. They are also vegan and gluten-free.

Infusing chewing gums with health benefits, innovative flavors, functional ingredients and convenient packaging makes the category healthy, exciting and easy.

Wrigley's research

• Weight management: Research has found that chewing gum for one hour can burn around 11 calories. Small reductions in calories can make a big difference in weight loss. Gum provides an alternative to eating other foods and can help control one’s appetite and cravings, according to researchers.

• Oral health: Orbit gum carries the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval because it is proven to help fight cavities, strengthen teeth and reduce plaque acids. The magnolia bark extract found in Eclipse gum is proven to help kill the germs that cause bad breath. Chewing gum also increases the amount of saliva in the mouth, which helps to clear out debris, prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth.

• Stress and concentration: A study presented at the 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine found that chewing gum may help reduce stress, improve alertness and relieve anxiety.