Located in the capital of Anhui Province in inland China, Zhaolong Foods specializes producing chewing gum, candy and chocolate. Zhaolong is the only confectioner in China that partners with AAU to source organic tea.
Tea polyphenol is the major ingredient in Zhaolong’s new gum, which is expected to come to market around October this year.
The polyphenol is anticarcinogenic and can help human bodies absorb Vitamin C, according to AAU biotechnology center director Xianfeng Du.
Du’s team used microencapsulation technology to enclose tea polyphenols in thin coatings and put them in the gum. He said when people chew the gum, the natural flavors of tea will be released.
Zhaolong is aiming to distribute the new gum initially through health and natural stores, clubs, and gyms rather than its traditional channels of grocery and convenience stores
“We target upper middle class consumers. The price will be 20% higher than the average gum product in China,” Zhaolong spokesperson Xin Wang told ConfectioneryNews.
Targeting overseas market
In addition, Zhaolong said the tea-flavored gum could become the company’s first product to be sold overseas.
“Tea is an important part of Chinese culture,” Wang added. “Our new gum could be a tool to introduce our tea culture to other countries. For the American market specifically, we are thinking about selling our product at Whole Foods and Teavana.”
The manufacturer's partnership with AAU followed the National Tech Innovation Conference in Beijing earlier this year, said Wang. During the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping encouraged higher educational institutions to bring technological innovations to Chinese businesses.
Wang added that the concept of organic has caused some suspicion in China, especially in inland areas where most consumers are not familiar with the idea.
Mistrust of organic foods
“Very similar to the situation of GMO, Chinese people don’t normally trust organic foods,” he said. “The launch of our new gum product is a way to help consumers know the health benefits of organic products.”
Organic foods are certified by around 20 agencies that are governed by Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People's Republic of China.
Wang said the new gum is not fully organic, because only the tea ingredient is organically sourced in Southern Anhui, adding that there were no organic confectionery products in the country.
China’s gum market is currently dominated by Wrigley, with 80% market share, and is growing by 10% annually, according to confectionery trade body China Candy. Zhaolong’s gum has around 1% market share in the country.