Ex-Innocent Drinks entrepreneurs secure first major listing for gum

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chewing gum, Xylitol

Ex-Innocent Drinks entrepreneurs secure first major listing for gum
Peppersmith - the premium gum firm created by former Innocent Drinks executives Mike Stevens and Dan Shrimpton – has secured its first supermarket listing.

The London-based start-up, which launched its first product in January (a high-quality chewing gum containing black mitcham peppermint grown in Hampshire) will be stocked in upmarket food retailer Booths in the summer, revealed Stevens.

"We started off by targeting independent outlets across Greater London – coffee shops, cafes, high-end delis, health food stores and so on – but the supermarkets are now starting to take us seriously now and we will be launching in Booths in the summer."

Speaking at a Leatherhead Food Research conference on 'natural' trends in food and drink yesterday, Shrimpton said that the trend towards using premium, natural, clean-label and sustainable ingredients had not really gained much traction in the £350m UK chewing gum market.

"The natural trend has transformed the market in almost every food category, with the exception of gum, where the leading players use a petroleum by-product for a gum base, intense sweeteners such as aspartame, bulk sweeteners, bovine gelatine and so on," ​he said.

"We are trying to bring new consumers into the gum category."

Natural positioning

Peppersmith, which hopes to expand its brand into mints and other confectionery products, avoids artificial flavours, colours and preservatives and sweetens its gum with xylitol (wood sugar from beech trees grown in Austria).

This has helped the gum secure an endorsement from the British Dental Health Foundation, while xylitol is also one of only a handful of ingredients that has gained a positive opinion from the European Food Safety Authority under the EU health claims Regulation.

Unlike market leaders Wrigley and Kraft, which use synthetic polymers as their gum bases, 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Chicle has a long history of use as a gum base, but has largely been replaced by synthetic polymers because they are more cost effective and provide greater consistency, said Shrimpton.

"The biggest challenge has been how to replicate the performance of a synthetic product with something made from trees and plants. It can't just be natural – it’s got to deliver as well."

Related topics: Confectionery

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