You’re at a convenience store, you grab a pack of gum in a wild flavor you’ve never seen before, and head over to the counter. Not so fast, though — your new health instincts and thriftiness kick in and you find yourself not only inspecting the ingredient list, but also wondering whether you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

 The latest trends in the gums and mints industry build off ones that emerged last year — fruity and minty flavors continue to be explored further and, in terms of packaging, the newest developments are literally bigger and better than ever seen before.

But what’s new this year is an emerging emphasis on all-natural gum products. Whereas “better-for-you” gum has always been a part of the sector, fledgling companies are focusing on not just the end product, but also the source. And although all-natural gum products are just starting to appear on the market, these small companies have big ideas.


Fruity and minty flavors

Now, more than ever, consumers are looking for variety in their gums and mints. As a result, manufacturers are introducing exciting fruit and refreshing mint flavors.

 In keeping with the trend, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. launched two new 5 Gum flavors in December 2011. The new RPM line is meant to “stimulate your senses” and comes in a tingling Energizing Fruit and a soothing Relaxing Mint flavor — giving the consumer a choice between different taste experiences.

 “It’s critical to be an innovator in the gum industry and to listen to consumers’ needs,” says Jennifer Jackson-Luth, senior manager of marketing at Wrigley. “People are constantly seeking out new flavors and unique qualities in gum and it’s our goal to provide a product for almost any taste.”

 In the mint sector, Wrigley recently introduced Life Savers in a “Spear ‘O Mint” flavor and Altoids Small in a “Nordic Mint” flavor, both breath-freshening formulas meant to deliver a mildly minty taste.

 Meanwhile, this year, Ferrero USA’s Somerset’s Tic Tac mints are launching a cinnamon spice variety — a re-introduction of what used to be their cinnamon flavor, but with a modern twist.

 And, fruity flavors continue to make headway into the market.

 “Consumers are looking for not just the standard grape and cherry,” says Noah Szporn, category marketing director for the Tic Tacs brand. “They’re looking for something that’s going to excite them, and gums and mints provide a very affordable way to get that.”

 In keeping with this philosophy, Tic Tac mints are launching a Cherry Apple Twist flavor as part of their seasonal program. The company is targeting the treat to be given as a gift this Christmas, offering a “twist” to the usual candy cane and mint flavors associated with winter holidays.


Growing trend: All-natural

While the biggest trend in the gums and mints industry seems to be innovation in flavors, emerging gum markets are targeting a growing, more health-conscious niche.

Glee Gum, a newly founded all-natural gum product, became the first Fair Trade-certified gum in the world in March 2012. The certification indicates the gum meets the environmental, labor and developmental standards of Fair Trade International.

 “At this point, sometimes confectionery products can be an afterthought,” says Deborah Schimberg, president and ceo of Glee Gum. “People can be very focused on the yogurt they eat and shop at Whole Foods, but then they’ll just go to CVS and buy whatever gum is on the counter.”

 And, although much of the gum market is headed toward wilder flavor combinations and novelty, Glee Gum is focused on what it feels is really important: healthy ingredients and sustainability.

 Tree Hugger Gum is another all-natural gum trying to get noticed. Founded in 2011, the company’s goal was to develop a sustainable, healthy and nut-free product.

 “These are all things that mothers were looking for plus [the gum] has all the benefits of a great tasting bubble gum,” says Amir Frydman, owner of Tree Hugger Gum.

 The product contains no artificial colors or flavors — product aspects Frydman says more consumers are wary of.

 “Consumers want organic farming; they don’t want pesticides,” he explains. “Would you rather eat an apple or would you rather eat a processed product that has a lot of artificial ingredients and artificial flavors?

 Both Glee Gum and Tree Hugger Gum use real chicle, a naturally occurring gum base, in their products, whereas more mainstream gum companies use commercially supplied gum bases.

 “People are now becoming more concerned about all aspects of the food they eat, including confectionery and treats,” says Schimberg. “They’re turning over the boxes to see what the ingredients are and investigating the supply chain thoroughly.”


Bigger packaging

And to deliver all of these exciting new flavors, gum companies are going big or going home.

 Wrigley recently launched new packaging options for their gum products in December 2011. Eclipse, Orbit White, and Juicy Fruit brand gums now come in 18-ct. blister packs, providing consumers with 50% more product than the previous 12-ct. packaging.

 Wrigley also launched their 120-ct. tall bottles and 180-ct. re-sealable stand-up bags — both packaging options meant to be shared and kept in places where the consumer needs them most, such as the car or the office desk.

 “While product and flavor innovation remain key sales drivers, we strive to provide relevant, useful packaging options that suit busy lifestyles and sharing occasions,” says Jackson-Luth.

 In the mint sector, Tic Tac mints are coming out with a 200-pellet bottle pack, which will deliver more than three times the product delivered in the standard 60-pellet pack while providing a newer and more modern look.

 “It addresses consumer needs whether it’s for your car or for your office, to have a more stationary pack where you can get a better value and more mints,” says Szporn. “Consumers like the convenience of having a product where they don’t have to worry about it running out.”

  Whether companies are focused on creating new flavor experiences or ensuring their product is as healthy as possible, the gum and mint sectors are as exciting as ever. And with products being delivered in larger formats, gums and mints will continue to keep consumers happy for a long time — or at least, until that 180-ct. bag is finally polished off.