Sugar free gum chews up mint market

By Peter Stiff

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gum, Chewing gum, Confectionery

Sugar free chewing gum is the biggest growth area in the UK gum and
mints sector, according to a report by Mintel.

The analyst believes that proposed smoking bans could boost both the gum and mints markets.

The sugar free chewing gum segment has grown 37.6 per cent since 2001, now accounting for 76.7 per cent of total gum trade in 2005.

Overall the gum market, incorporating all types of both chewing and bubble gum, had 2005 sales of £353.7 million (€519m), an increase of 32.4 per cent since 2001.

Conversely the mints market is in decline.

Mintel analyst Julie Sloan attributed the gum categories growth to more widespread appeal, particularly in the case of sugar free products.

"Gum has benefited from high levels of new product development, which have encouraged people to try some for the first time,"​ Sloan said. "Varieties that claim to whiten teeth or improve dental hygiene have proved extremely successful, appealing to older adults in particular."

The chewing gum market is worth £316.9 million (€465m), of which sugar free gum accounted for £271.5 (€398m) million in 2005.

The sales increase in sugar free gum, however, has meant that regular chewing gum sales have suffered.

Sales of regular chewing gum have declined 11.1 per cent since 2001, ending 2005 with a value of £45.6 million.

Bubblegum sales may have contributed to dwindling sales of regular chewing gum after also experiencing tremendous growth, albeit from a smaller base.

Since 2001 the bubblegum segment has increased 96.8 per cent in value, and is now worth £36.8 million.

Meanwhile the mints market is in decline.

Sales of mints in 2005 reached £198.5 million, a decline of 14 per cent since 2001.

Boiled mints have suffered the most, now accounting for only 13.2 per cent of the mints market.

Sales of boiled mints are now worth £26.2 million, after a decline of 40.3 per cent since 2001.

Mild mints are the segments most valuable, worth £53.8 million.

However, despite accounting for 27.1 per cent of the total mints market, soft mints still suffered a loss of 13.9 per cent in value on 2001 figures.

Mint strips appear to be the only area of prosperity in the overall mints category.

The recent innovation bucks a trend in decline within the market.

Sales of mint strips reached £5 million in 2005, up 2.5 per cent on the previous year, representing an encouraging start.

Sloan believes the mints market is struggling to compete with the chewing gum sector and is also seen as old fashioned.

Mints have "struggled to make new products work and suffered at the hands of fluctuating advertising support,"​ Sloan said.

Looking forward the Mintel report expects the mint sector to continue to decline, while chewing gum continues to grow.

Tougher legislation on smoking is touted by the report as a potential boost to the market.

"The mint and chewing gum market could receive a boost, when proposed smoking bans come into effect from April 2005, as smokers turn to these products when craving a cigarette in public places,"​ Sloan said.

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