The gum industry is thriving in the recession, as manufacturers release gourmet gum flavors and promote research that chewing gum helps control weight. Plus, gum is one of the few indulgences people can still afford.
Last year, U.S. gum sales reached almost $4.8 billion, up 6.2 percent from 2007 and up 24.8 percent from 2005, according to the new Portfolio. Despite the bad economy, sales are expected to continue growing this year.
Most of the increase since 2005 can be attributed to the introduction of more sugar-free gums sweetened with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, the magazine reports. "The sugar substitutes aren't as water-soluble as other sweeteners, so you get a more intense flavor that lasts longer," said George Stege, president of Ford Gum Inc. In just the last year, 185 new gum varieties were introduced, and companies are producing gums with more exotic flavors like Orbit's cocktail-inspired Mint Mojito and Sangria Fresca, and Ford's mango-chili gourmet gumballs. "We are very aware that people are more sophisticated in their tastes these days and expect more choice than just plain mint and cinnamon," said Paul Chibe, a marketing executive Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
Studies show flavor is what most motivates people to chew gum, but companies have also been pushing the health benefits of gum, highlighting research that shows chewing gum can whiten teeth, prevent tooth decay, and reduce stress. EurekAlert is reporting that the Wrigley Science Institute funded research by Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Louisiana State University to prove that people who chewed gum in the afternoon didn't eat as many snacks, particularly sweet snacks, as people who didn't chew gum. 115 adults were tested to see what kinds of snacks they ate after a healthy lunch, once on a day when they were given Extra sugar-free gum and on another day without the gum. When chewing gum, the subjects reported feeling less hungry and drowsy, and having fewer sugar cravings. "Overall, this research demonstrates the potential role chewing gum can play in appetite control, reduction of snack cravings and weight management," said Dr. Paula J. Geiselman, who ran the study.
Chew On This [Portfolio]
Chewing Gum Reduces Snack Cravings And Decreases Consumption Of Sweet Snacks [EurekAlert]