Bubble gum manufacturers can win over health conscious parents with tooth-friendly versions, according to supplier Beneo.
Beneo touted its sweetener Palatinose for bubble gum at the recent International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne, Germany.
Ailing bubble gum segment
“It could offer additional business and could help to revitalize some target groups that they have neglected,” Thomas Schmidt, marketing manager for Beneo told ConfectioneryNews.
Bubble gum accounts for only 11% of the chewing gum-dominated global gum market. The bubble gum category is expected to decline 4.2% in North America and 2.1% in Western Europe up to 2017, while the chewing gum market is forecast to remain flat, according to Euromonitor International.
“It’s a segment that is idling for a number of reasons,” said Schmidt. "One of the major reasons is that manufacturers have self-imposed advertising regulations where they no longer address consumers under the age of 12.”
“Children usually start with bubble gum because they like the playful part of the gum, but what’s available in the market is only sugar-based products and maybe some of the parents are interfering.”
He said that manufacturers were also reluctant to offer sugar-free bubble gums because it meant using polyols, which have the potential danger of laxation when over-consumed, a particular danger for children.
Isomaltulose, the chemical name for Beneo's Palatinose, has an EFSA-approved claim to maintain tooth mineralization and to reduce post-prandial glycaemic response.
“It’s derived from sugar beet. In the factory, we use the sugar beet to extract the regular sucrose. Then we take that sucrose through a non-GMO enzymatic process, where we are relinking the fructose and the glucose molecule with a more stable bonding," said Schmidt.
“It’s discovered or designed by nature - all we do is take it through an industrial process to make it available in higher volumes,” he continued, adding that traces of Palatinose could be found in honey or sugar molasses.
“The product consists of glucose and fructose; it’s a fully digestible, fully caloric sugar, but it has a much better blood glucose profile, meaning that it is less stressful for the body to deal with it."
Opportunities for subtle flavors
Beneo said it saw potential for Palatinose – labelled Isomaltulose on packages - bubble gum in mature Western markets where there was a stronger understanding of tooth friendly and the low glycaemic products.
“It still demands a lot of communication - not only from the manufacturer but also from the retailer, explaining to the parent why this product is much better for their children than a regular sugared one,” said Schmidt.
“On the lab-scale the taste is the same as the sugared products. It has a slightly lower sweetness, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it allows you to play more with aromas and flavors. You can work with more subtle flavors like maybe watermelon, mandarin or exotic flavors.”
He said the mouth-feel was the same as a sugared product, adding that Palatinose would release the flavors for longer than sugared gum.
“You can also work with the same production equipment. You may have to make some minor modifications, but in general it’s a sugar and it behaves just like sugar.”
Toothfriendly logo and costs
No manufacturer has introduced a Palatinose-based bubble gum, but the first to do so will be able to use Toothfriendly International’s good for teeth logo.
“This logo is recognized quite highly in Europe. You have the smiling tooth under the umbrella so it’s quite self-explanatory,” said Schmidt.
Since the product is backed by EFSA health claims it does come at a premium.
“Our upfront costs for this ingredient are pretty high and the price point should be around four times the regular price of sugar. But it’s not massively different compared to polyols,” said Scmidt.
“Adults are prepared to pay a higher price for products when they know it’s good for their children. You can buy it with a cleaner conscience than giving a sugared product to your children.“