The world's foremost chewing gum producer, the Wm Wrigley Jr Company, is set to make inroads into the growing functional confectionery market with a new gum to combat bad breath.
The company was awarded a patent in the US last week for gum containing the metal salts zinc and copper.
Functional confectionery has enjoyed a surge in popularity across the board, especially in the gum sector where products which claim to fight tooth decay, as well as sugarless varieties, are gaining in popularity.
Metal salts have been proven to alleviate halitosis - a condition where bad breath is caused by factors such as dental disease or the fermentation of food residue in the mouth - by bonding with the volatile sulphur compounds associated with bad breath.
Previously, attempts to ingest the salts proved unsuccessful due to their astringency and metallic taste.
Wrigley, who own the brands Juicy Fruit, Extra and Doublemint, claim the gum is an improvement on existing brands as contains enough flavour to mask any unpalatable taste.
According to market researchers, Leatherhead International the trend for functional gum is likely to continue.
They stated in their 2006 global confectionery report: "One major area of innovation has been the development of confectionery offering functional health benefits. Some of the more notable examples have included chewing gums that provide additional dental benefits, medicated sweets designed to relieve congestion and confectionery fortified with various vitamins and minerals."
The report further concluded: "The penetration of functional chewing gum is expected to increase in future, driven by increasing consumer awareness."
The global gum industry was worth over €10.9bn in 2005 and North America is the largest market, accounting for 24 per cent of worldwide consumption.
Wrigley currently has a 35% share of the worldwide chewing gum market and sells its products in 180 countries.