The US group said that the team at the new €10.4m gum and confectionery R&D facility at Eysins will work closely with researchers at its gum and candy centre of excellence in New Jersey to determine how to develop gum and confectionery products and packaging that adhere to taste and other preferences of consumers throughout Europe.
Laurie Guzzinati, a spokesperson for Kraft, said that today’s opening event was the culmination of a two-year project kickstarted by Cadbury management prior to the acquisition of the confectionery group by the US giant in February this year, and the move represents another stage in the integration of the Cadbury business into the global group.
And the Kraft spokesperson said that the growing consumer demand for gum that can deliver ingredients that aid oral healthcare and hygiene as well as interesting new flavour profiles were the primary triggers for the development of the regional centre in Swizterland.
Indeed, resurgence in gum product innovation within the EU is likely given the approval last week by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for a health claim related to sugar-free chewing gum and a reduction in tooth decay.
Guzzinati said that the Swiss R&D facility is the latest addition in Kraft’s global network of innovation centres, which now total 15 sites globally, and she added that collaboration with research institutes based in Switzerland is on the cards.
“The mayor of the Vaud canton is attending today’s inauguration and Kraft envisages that the Eysins facility will be a magnet for R&D in this region of Switzerland,” she told ConfectioneryNews.com.
According to Guzzinati, innovation focused on chocolate confectionery will remain the remit of the Bourneville R&D centre in the UK but that alliances between it and the Eysins centre will naturally form as “often technology developed at one centre will have obvious applications for other food categories.”
Kraft has a number of gum brands with leading positions in markets across Europe, such as Hollywood in France, Trident in Spain, Greece and Portugal, and Stimorol in Denmark and Switzerland, and has recently launched a new chewing gum brand Fresh&Clean across its European markets.
Worth $23bn annually, the global gum market has grown by almost a quarter since 2005.
However, a recent You Gov report showed that sales of gum plummeted in the UK in 2009. The publication noted thought that the sector was set to recover in the coming months as the leading players were attempting to redress the market problems.
In fact, the authors said that the decision of Cadbury (now Kraft owned) to extend the bestselling mint brand Trebor to the gum sector, with the aim of appealing to older consumers, has already been determined a success by industry insiders.
Wrigley, the clear brand leader in the chewing gum market, did not escape the significant downturn in sales that slashed market value in 2009. This included an 11 per cent drop in sales for the leading brand Extra, said the authors.
And the US manufacturer is seeking to revive the market with a strategy, notes the report, which involves a change in consumer targeting. Wrigley is looking to broaden gum’s appeal away from a youth focused model, they reveal.
The researchers claim that the leading gum maker is also aiming to re-establish the functional reasons for chewing gum, and the company is said to be investing £10m in the Extra brand throughout 2010.
Whereas the main brands are seeking to revive the gum market by broadening usage, the report point outs that Perfetti Van Melle is concentrating on appealing to younger consumers, with the move, announced in February 2010, that it was extending its Chupa Chups lollipop brand to bubblegum.