The firm, which launched its first product in January; a gum containing black mitcham peppermint grown in Hampshire, has since secured listings for its brand in independent stores across greater London and a handful of stores outside the capital.
The next step is to introduce new gum varieties such as cinnamon and spearmint, and then explore brand extensions into other categories, Stevens told Foodmanufacture.co.uk. “While all-natural premium products have made it into a lot of categories, you don’t really see much of this in gum. You don’t really get gum connoisseurs. We want to put gum in places that you wouldn’t traditionally find it.”
He added: “But we don’t want to stop at gum. We’re looking at mints and other confectionery products now as we really think there is space in the market for something a bit different.”
While the firm would like to get listings in the big coffee chains and ultimately the multiple retailers, it had started by targeting higher-end independent outlets, said Stevens: “We will approach larger chains, but first we need to prove that there is demand in the independent space.”
Natural gum base
Peppersmith is positioning its product as the “UK’s first all natural gum” as it avoids artificial flavours, colours and preservatives and is sweetened with xylitol (wood sugar).
Unlike the leading gum manufacturers such as Wrigley and Cadbury/Kraft, which use synthetic polymers as a gum base, Peppersmith uses chicle - the sap from the Sapodilla (ironwood) tree, which it sources from Central America.
Chicle has a long history of use as a gum base, but has largely been replaced by synthetic polymers because they are more cost effective and provide greater consistency, said Stevens. “It is actually pretty hard to work with in terms of consistency, as it’s harder to run through the machines. It also reacts in interesting ways with other ingredients. For example, we’re using high-quality peppermint oil, and this can soften up the gum base quite a lot.”