a £29.3m brand. And according to industry pundits, the resulting shake-up has meant it's a boom time for gum in general.
Global Business Insights analyst Helen Lewis believes manufacturers of sugar-free and functional gum have benefited, and will continue to benefit, from obesity fears associated with traditional confectionery products. She says: "Chewing gum is one of the easiest products to market as being 'good for you', so combining sugar-free and functional properties in these products is a winning combination for manufacturers."
And a recent Mintel report on chewing gum and mints takes a similar view, saying that these products are already seen by consumers as functional, placing them in the perfect position to become a conduit for vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics and other supplements.
However, Mintel goes on to say that while functionality is key, consumers are also looking for a taste experience, so longer-lasting flavours and more taste options will appeal, with health-conscious consumers looking for a sugar confectionery alternative that delivers 'the same taste satisfaction'.
It sounds like a tall order, but both Trident and Wrigley have been busy developing new flavours for consumers.
Someone with first-hand knowledge of what's been happening at wholesale and retailer level with chewing gum is Richard Brittle, purchasing director at specialist confectionery wholesaler Hancocks. He says: "It has been a busy 12 months for the gum market, so it will come as no surprise to learn that the category saw the greatest growth in the confectionery market for 2007."
And he expects more of the same in 2008. He says: "Trident has just launched new flavours which should add further interest to the market. This brand is very much geared towards the confectionery angle, as opposed to Wrigley's, which is focused on breath-freshening."
Wrigley's is said to be planning the launch of two new Extra flavours: Arctic Ice and Polar Ice. It is also expected to launch two new flavours for Orbit Complete: strawberry and lemon & lime.
"Hancocks always supports new confectionery launches in a big way and I would encourage retailers to take advantage of them, too," advises Brittle. "There will be plenty of marketing behind these launches including TV, and that's sure to bring in strong initial sales."
Wrigley still holds an 88.6% share of the total gum category (ACNielsen week ending January 12, 2008). Wrigley's Extra is the number one sugar confectionery brand in the UK, worth £184m - a delicious irony considering it does not contain any sugar!
Last summer the Extra range was boosted by the launch of Fusion, designed to bring innovation to the mouth-freshening market. It comes in two formats: spearmint with a twist of melon, and peppermint with a twist of berry in an extra large blister pack; plus raspberry, blackcurrant & grapefruit, and orange, pineapple & banana in tab format.
Wrigley continues to support its brands with advertising and sponsorship. Indeed, the Extra brand still sponsors long-running teen soap Hollyoaks.
Phillipson says that with Trident, CTB has been keen to add some fun to the category.
"We are targeting people who just really like to chew gum, and if you put gum in front of these people they'll buy it. Gum has been habitual for a lot of people, but with Trident we want to make it fun and exciting."
Obviously, getting the gum to the people means co-operation with retailers, as Phillipson explains: "In the past gum had not been treated like confectionery, it was not backed by a lot of promotional activity so we applied the confectionery model to gum - and it worked.
"We spoke to retailers. We showed them data to prove that gum was severely under-developed here in the UK, and they agreed with our argument."
That data stated that in 2006 gum accounted for just 6% of confectionery sales in the UK - while in other countries it's 10-20%. However, Phillipson hopes that 6% will rise to 9% by 2011. CTB hopes to do this through increased penetration and frequency of use.
For 2008, Trident is continuing its npd programme. This month sees the launch of three new flavours: Splash apple & apricot; Soft strawberry smoothie; and Soft spearmint. Splash has a rrp of 50p while Soft retails at 69p.
"Historically, UK consumers have been pretty conservative about flavours. It was a case of mint or nothing, but that's starting to change," says Phillipson. "For women, in particular, we've found that our fruit flavours satisfy their need for a 'sweet hit'. Our strawberry & lime flavour is popular for this."
Trident will be backed by a £10m media campaign during 2008 including TV, digital and outdoor advertising, as well as sampling.
Of course, Trident and Wrigley are not the only gum brands around. Day Stretcher 24/7 is a new range of functional caffeine-infused chewing gums and strips which is said to deliver the caffeine equivalent of eight cans of energy drink. National sales manager for the product, Andy Johns, explains: "Not everyone likes the flavour of energy drinks, so 24/7 is perfect for people who want the effect of an energy drink, but aren't necessarily thirsty. The product is convenient to carry around in your pocket, too, and unlike energy drinks, doesn't make you need the loo."
One retailer who is already stocking Day Stretcher 24/7 is Trevor Bratty, owner of Brunels News & Food in the 02 venue in London's Greenwich, and he says he finds it hard to keep up with the demand for it.
Rrp is £1.49 and retailers are promised profit margins of 30%-plus. The product is available from Sweet Cred and is currently listed by Booker and Palmer & Harvey.
Finally Revolymer, a company formed from the University of Bristol, claims to have a solution to the age-old problem of removing discarded gum from pavements. It has developed a polymer that it says can remove the stickiness of chewing gum.
The company reckons that it's possible to remove its new Clean Gum easily from shoes, clothes, pavements and hair. In addition, the gum is naturally degradable in water. The company tested the product on pavements and said gum was removed within 24 hours.
The hard stuff
According to ACNielsen figures (MAT to December 15, 2007), the UK mints market is worth £162m, down 3.3%, but in the convenience and independent channel the market is valued at £61m, up 1%.
Trebor is the number one mint brand, but a flood at the factory last year caused some availability problems for Extra Strong mints. Trebor has a 47% share of the market and is worth £60.6m, while Extra Strong is worth £27.4m and is the fastest selling SKU in mints, according to Cadbury Trebor Bassett marketing manager John Phillipson.
Richard Brittle, purchasing director at Hancocks, comments: "Our best-selling mint for 2007 was Triple X, which sold especially well due to Trebor Extra Strong being out of the market for some time. Many of our weighout mints performed well, too, with mint imperials showing sales growth of 10% year on year."
Tracey Mattock, marketing manager at Fox's Confectionery, confirms that XXX extra strong mints are showing year-on-year growth of 36.4%, with distribution growing more than 20% in just six months. She is promising a dedicated PR campaign for the brand in 2008, including sampling and press activity.
Mattock adds that the £2m TV ad campaign for the Fox's Glacier range, launched last October, contributed to a 10.2% uplift in sales for the mints, 13.7% for fruits and 26.9% for the dark variant, bringing the value of the Glacier brand to £12.9m.
"Last year we added a 99p pricemarked 170g bag to the Fox's Glacier range, specifically for the convenience sector. Sales of that bag size alone have already hit £1m."
Finally, there's Polo, which has a 17.4% share of the mint market and is worth £28m. The brand performs particularly well in the convenience and independent channels, where it accounts for 23% of mint sales and is worth £14.2m.
Dennis Williams, Broadway Convenience Store, Edinburgh
"We sell Wrigley's gum and some children's lines, but not Trident.
"We did give Trident a fair crack when it launched, but it just didn't sell in our shop. Cadbury Trebor Bassett put a lot of money behind Trident, but we run a tight ship - our epos said it didn't sell, so we had to stop stocking it.
"We sell a lot of Wrigley, especially the Extra blue pack. They're always bringing out new lines and we do try them but it's the old favourites that sell best - Extra, Orbit and Airwaves."
Dave Chew, Dave's Convenience Store, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
"We sell loads of chewing gum. In fact, I can't believe how much we get through. All the flavours we stock sell well and we've sold more than ever since the smoking ban. We get loads of commuters in here and The Sun and a packet of gum is all they seem to want. If we didn't have all those commuters I reckon we'd sell 10% of the amount we sell now.
"I do help sales, though. If I know the customer and they smell like they've been eating garlic,
I tell them. I say 'You don't want to be sitting on a packed train smelling like that, do you?' and then they buy some mints or gum. Some of my customers don't like gum, so they buy Extra Strong mints instead.
"I remember when you could get only Freshmint, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit - today the choice is amazing. The trouble is, though, that when a company brings out a new flavour, you don't sell any more gum - people just switch flavours."