Targeting women seeking a 'moment of pleasure in a sugar-free, low-calorie gum', Cadbury claims its new launch, with its focus on indulgence, breaks new ground for the gum category. At the same time, this latest launch will seek new opportunities to grab market share away from rival US gum firm Wrigley. "Cadbury is continuing to shake up the UK gum market with Sweet Kicks...[a great] example of our commitment to using cutting-edge innovation to take the gum-chewing experience to the next level," says Trevor Bond, managing director of Cadbury Britain and Ireland. Innovation through R&D pursuits led Cadbury to use Trident's 'pioneering centre fill' technology for its new chewing gum; a gum that the Birmingham-based firm claims provides a 'liquid burst of chocolate flavour, with its mint-flavoured shell leaving a refreshing aftertaste.' Competition to amass market share in the global chewing gum arena stepped up a gear earlier this year when Mars and Wrigley merged in a $23bn deal, creating a confectionery heavyweight with over $27bn in combined sales. Confronted by a more challenging marketplace, the Mars-Wrigley link-up merger has prompted industry onlookers, notably institutional investors, to speculate on a possible future merger of US chocolate firm Hershey with Cadbury. Despite a testing confectionery sector, that according to recent data from Key Note Publications, posted annual growth rates in 2007 in the EU at 2.5 per cent and whose value in the UK alone dropped from £4.41bn (€5.65bn) in 2006 to £4.31bn (€5.52bn), the launch of Cadbury's Trident brand into the chewing gum market in 2007 brought in considerable incremental sales of £40m for this sector for firm. Indeed, Cadbury claims that the Trident launch in the UK resulted in a 16 per cent growth in the UK gum market, with 'Trident responsible for 77 per cent of the gum category's growth' in 2007. The firm asserts to be number one in 18 of the top 50 gum markets worldwide, with gum vital to the company's growth and now making up to 35 per cent of the company's revenues. Cadbury will certainly hope its chocolate-substitute gum, set to hit the UK shelves on 14 July, taps into market opportunities that have seen demand for healthy and functional gums rise, while sales for the regular varieties fall foul of the increasingly health-conscious consumer. According to Global Business Insights, sugar-free and functional gum products in the EU will experience compound annual growth rates of 3.6 and 5.3 per cent respectively up to 2010. By comparison, in the EU the market for regular or 'sugary' gums will lose 2.4 per cent of its value, and in the US a significant 8.5 per cent decline for the same market. According to analyst Helen Lewis, manufacturers of sugar-free and functional gum have benefited, and will continue to benefit, from obesity fears associated with traditional confectionery products. "Healthy or functional gum brands are taking share away from regular brands," Lewis said. "The situation leaves gum confectionery companies in a costly situation; either they innovate and invest in added value ingredients, or the brand will suffer." Recent innovations in gum design include Hershey's Ice Cold Instantly Cold Gum - a sugar free product which claims to provide the 'ultimate mouth freshening', and Wrigley's Fresh Gum with Gel.