Low-cost functional gum opportunity in the Netherlands

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Dutch confectioner Leaf International (now merged with Cloetta) introduced the first 100% xylitol-based soft gum on the European Market in 2011
Dutch confectioner Leaf International (now merged with Cloetta) introduced the first 100% xylitol-based soft gum on the European Market in 2011

Related tags Sugar-free gum Confectionery Chewing gum Xylitol Netherlands

Chewing gums backed by approved health claims and with low price points are a rare growth opportunity in the mature Dutch confectionery market, according to market analysts Canadean.

The overall Dutch confectionery market is set for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 1.2% between 2012-2017, says Candean.

Health claims driving gum growth

Gum however is predicted to grow faster at 3.1% compared to chocolate (1.2%) and sugar confectionery (1.5%).

Canadean report analyst Ronan Stafford told ConfectioneryNews.com: “The main driver behind this is health claims. Consumers are very open to a health claim.”

However, he added that confectioners must keep the price point low. “A health claim is not a license to go out and sell a lot of premium gum,”​ he said.

Gums for tooth whitening, decay prevention and fresh breath will score well in the Netherlands, but companies must be careful how they make the claim, said the analyst.

EU sugarfree gum claims

Health claims in Europe are regulated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

There are five authorised health claims in the EU for sugar-free gum, plus one for sugar-free gum with carbamide, one for xylitol gum and another for gum with fluroide.

The claims for sugar-free gum are maintenance of tooth mineralisation, plaque acid neutralisation and reduction of oral dryness.

Wrigley made the tooth mineralisation and plaque acid neutralisation claims under Art 14 (1) (a), but these were also approved under general function Art 13 (1) submissions, which come via member states rather than businesses – taking the number of sugar-free claims to five.

Carbamide and xylitol gum claims

The 13(1) claim with carbamide says that gums with the ingredient are more effective in plaque acid neutralisation than gums without it.

There is also an approved health claim for plaque reduction for gum sweetened with 100% xylitol following an application from Dutch confectioner Leaf (now Cloetta).

Sugar-free chewing gum with fluoride has also been proven to maintain tooth mineralisation after a 13 (1) application.

Stafford said that in the Dutch market, “if you get a health claim approved you will do very well”.

Although its share will grow, gum still has the lowest value share of the market at 6.3% will remain the smallest segment behind sugar confectionery and chocolate by 2017, said Canadean.

Canadean dutch confectionery market


Canadean research found that online retail, also known as eRetail, was the fastest growing channel by value in the Dutch confectionery market .

Stafford warned that eRetail was still a very small distribution channel compared to supermarkets and convenience stores and would be difficult for an impulse-driven category like confectionery to break in to.

“If they do it will be planned treats for children’s lunchboxes,”​ he said.

He added that gum in particular would struggle, but a health claim may prompt heavy consumers to buy in bulk for their weekly shop.

Related topics Markets Gum Health & Functionality

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