Whole Health Trends: Good Gum

Chew on this: The global gum market has grown from $16 billion in 2004 to $23 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor International. How did the industry keep the flavor going? A healthy profile seems to have helped. Like cereal, bread, juice and other supposedly staid categories, gum has emerged as a launch pad for functional benefits. Brands like Trident have been offering sugarless varieties

Chew on this: The global gum market has grown from $16 billion in 2004 to $23 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor International. How did the industry keep the flavor going? A healthy profile seems to have helped.

Like cereal, bread, juice and other supposedly staid categories, gum has emerged as a launch pad for functional benefits. Brands like Trident have been offering sugarless varieties since the 1970s, and in the past couple of years manufacturers have started adding ingredients that clean, whiten and strengthen teeth, as well as boost energy. With names like Xylitol and Recaldent , the additions tend to read like a chemistry quiz.

Complex science aside, gum manufacturers have decided to tout these ingredients on packages and in marketing literature. Doing this seems to have enhanced people's perception of gum as a preventive measure, especially during a recession. Sales of sugarless brands, for one, increased by 6% between this year and last, according to Information Resources Inc.

“As long as the deep economic recession lasts, millions of Americans will think of saving money on postponed visits to the dentist every time they select a chewing gum,” stated a recent report from Packaged Facts, the Chicago-based market research firm.

What's next for the industry? According to Doris Tancredi, vice president of regulatory affairs and emerging science at Cadbury, it'll be “therapeutic or active agents to provide entirely new dental care benefits.”