The number two gum player Kraft (now Mondelez) has filed a patent for a degradable gum composition that is similar to one currently being assessed for novel foods approval in the EU.
The patent, filed by Kraft, details a gum formulation based on alternating co-polymers: C2-C10 alkene and maleic anhydride. The formulation absorbs more water than conventional chewing gum, which helps it to degrade in the environment.
Kraft-owned R&D firm Reading Scientific Services Limited (RSSL) is currently applying for EU novel foods for synthetic chewing gum base with methyl vinyl ether and maleic anhydride; also alternating co-polymers.
Mondelez declined to comment on the patent and would not confirm whether it was linked to the novel foods application from RSSL.
Mondelez develops own solution
“The present inventors have surprisingly found that presence of an alternating copolymer of an alkene and maleic anhydride in a chewing gum composition provides degradation properties to the chewing gum,” said Kraft in its patent application.
RSSL’s EU novel foods application received a positive opinion from the Dutch Competent Authority last year and the Commission is now pondering whether to grant approval.
Mondelez previously said it was hoping to collaborate to produce a solution for environmentally-friendly chewing gum base. The post on its open innovation site at kfcollaborationkitchen.com has since been removed.
Wrigley, last year told us that less sticky gum was its "number one" R&D priority.
UK firm Revolymer has a degradeable gum base and brand called Rev7 that has EU novel foods approval. The brand is currently being sold in Ireland, but was removed from the US at the start of the year. The company is hoping to license the gum base.
Researchers from University College Cork, Ireland, patented a process for a non-sticky, biodegradable gum that uses cereal proteins in 2011, while a Dutch consortium, including TNO, are researching ways to make a similar gum. (See HERE and HERE )
The Chicza Rainforest Gum Initiative also has an ‘Organic Rainforest Gum’ that is made from natural chicle, which dissolves within four to six weeks on pavements. It is only available in the UK and entered Waitrose stores in 2009.