Packaged chewing gum hit a sales wall several years ago when the universe of options expanded beyond consumers’ comfort zone, according to some center-store category managers of convenience stores. Too many line extensions and overall selections led to confusion, and suppliers responded by pruning their portfolios.
The effort is still a work in progress. In 2018, chewing gum sales rose slightly to $4.1 billion, with volume comprising 11% of the total U.S. retail confection category, according to Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts. The upward swing is paced by global suppliers Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelez International and Hershey, as well as a handful of smaller brands.
It also gives manufacturers the green light to launch new products again.
“Gum marketers are developing fun and flavorful products and are innovating with non-caloric sweeteners, as well as stressing the potential benefits of dental and nutrition-bearing gums,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondelez International, called the global gum market “challenging” during the company’s Sept. 8 investor day conference and said Mondelez’s business was underperforming.
“Gum represents 8% of our total business and has above-average margins,” he said. “In recent months, we have seen a stabilization and even some growth in the gum market. While gum as a segment is challenging, the consumers’ need for refreshment is very important. So, I would say that instead of a gum problem, we believe we have a refreshment opportunity.”
One way the company is seeking to unlock that opportunity comes by perceiving its gum and mints businesses as one unified entity, extending mint brands into the gum category and gum brands such as Stride into the mint segment. “By doing so, we will capture a bigger share of the refreshment segment,” Van de Put said.
Read on for a look at what’s trending in the chewing-gum confection segment.