August 3, 2009
They may not like it in Singapore, but gum, particularly sugar-free, is chewing up the market. The New York Times reports that, for the 52 weeks that ended July 12, excluding WalMart sales, sugarless brands brought in $2.2 billion, per Information Resources Inc., 6% more than the previous year. Sugarless gum commands more than 80% percent of the market for gum vs. 48% in 1998.
Sugarless gum is emerging as a sort of health food, with research finding benefits in such diverse areas as enhanced concentration, increased satiety and even soothing acid reflux. But the biggest area is dental health. Sales of gums with oral health claims are expected to grow by 40% over the next five years according to Packaged Facts. Some brands carry the American Dental Association seal and a statement that chewing gum after meals helps reduce cavities. Other brands pledge to restore enamel, whiten teeth or eliminate germs that promote bad breath.
Manufacturers are not just looking at the intrinsic health benefits of physically chewing gum, but are busy adding ingredients that up the ante from magnolia bark extract to Recaldent (casein phosphopeptides and amorphous calcium phosphate). Chicago-based Wm. Wrigley Jr., a division of Mars, has even formed the Wrigley Science Institute to help investigate the Benefits of Chewing.
All this activity opens the proverbial can of worms when it comes to label claims, however, with close scrutiny from competitors, as well as government.
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