Project 7 launches first functional gum line, expanding into c-stores

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Project 7's Midnight gum line will bring the company to the c-store space for the first time.
Project 7's Midnight gum line will bring the company to the c-store space for the first time.

Related tags Gum Caffeine Confectionery Tyler merrick

California-based gourmet gum and gummy brand, Project 7, unveiled its latest energizing gum line, Midnight, with added B vitamins and guarana at the recent NACS show in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Speaking to ConfectioneryNews during the show, Project 7’s CEO and founder, Tyler Merrick, said the new gum line was designed for the convenience marketplace, and has a “strong flavor profile.”

The Midnight line comes in five flavors: cold mint, sweet tea and lemonade, spearmint, peppermint and sour fruit. Products will be available from January next year, and will come in traditional 12-pack trays. Each 53-ounce pack retails for $1.49 to $1.59 at retail convenience across the US.

The unveiling comes shortly after the company secured its partnership with American Airlines, through which Project 7’s gummy bears were added to the airline’s onboard food menu​.

Elevating flavors and adding functional elements

One of the biggest trends in the gum category is elevating flavor profile. “What Starbucks did years ago is taking coffee to a higher bold roast, and they were changing the flavor profile to what people think is higher quality coffee,” ​Merrick said.

“This is what we did to our Midnight gums.”

Meanwhile, the other trend is adding functional elements to the gum, because it adds a lot of value to the products, Merrick said.

People have already been using gums as a vehicle for breath freshening, and having a fun experience, but gum is also a great system to deliver energy, he added.

Confectioners across the country have been targeting the energy gum category in recent years. For example, Mondelez used B6 and B12 vitamins to charge its Stride Spark Gum. Some other brands, such as Wrigley and L.A. Fuel even filled their gums with caffeine. However, caffeinated gums drew criticism and concerns from both the public and the FDA, which caused Wrigley to pull its Alert Energy gum in 2013.

Regis J. Nesbitt, VP of marketing and sales at Vitaball, a US gum firm that produces caffeine-free energy gums, previously told ConfectioneryNews that caffeine is a false energy level, and it takes blood pressure up, then brings the energy down unless people keep consuming it.

Business re-brand?

Project 7 has introduced a brand new design for the Midnight line. Unlike its previous products’ packaging, the new one has a dark blue background that is decorated with animals, such as a white shark, electric jellyfish and magic dragon.

“We wanted this new line to really target the convenience marketplace and nail the male demographics,”​ Merrick said. “So we wanted to have something that has DNA behind it for a certain type of personality, have a little fun and experiment with our brand.”

Expanding into c-stores

The launch of the Midnight gum line will mark Project 7’s first entrance into the convenience space, according to the company. Its products are already available in traditional mass channels, including CVS and Target in the US.

The $3bn gum category has posted a 1.33% year-over-year dollar sales increase, according to IRI’s latest data ending on Sept. 4th​, 2016. Project 7 leads the growth within the US sugarless gum category with a 154.59% dollar sales increase compared to last year.

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