Weight Watchers has previously worked with chocolate confectionery brand Whitman’s, owned by Russell Stover Candies, as well as Arnold’s Sandwich Thins Rolls owned by Bimbo Bakeries USA.
The decision to cooperate with the weight loss program came after Project 7 started noticing on social media that a considerable amount of its followers are among those trying to achieve weight goals.
“They were using our gum, especially our flavors like birthday cake, s’mores, rainbow ice to satisfy their sweet tooth,” CEO Tyler Merrick said.
“Knowing Weight Watchers is always looking to help its members on their path toward a healthier lifestyle, we knew our gum would be a fun and unique item to offer Weight Watchers members in Weight Watchers stores and centers,” he said.
Merrick said Project 7 is the first gum brand in the US to partner with Weight Watchers.
Adding SmartPoints on packaging
Though Project 7 has not created flavors unique to the partnership, its packaging has been customized to adopt Weight Watchers’ universal product code, as well as its SmartPoints information.
SmartPoints is part of Weight Watchers’ Beyond the Scale program, and it takes the information provided on the nutrition facts label for calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein and converts it into a simple number, according to the program’s website.
SmartPoints was designed to help its members personalize their food choices throughout the day, Merrick said.
Project 7 gum is worth zero SmartPoints, the same amount as vegetables and fruit.
Largest selection in one location
Weight Watchers currently stocks eight gum flavors at each one of its meeting centers across the US, the largest selection of Project 7’s flavors in one location compared to the company’s existing retail channels, Merrick said.
However, the prices of Project 7’s products vary by Weight Watchers’ locations, he added.
Project 7’s products have previously been available at CVS, Walgreens, Starbucks and Target in the US, according to ConfectioneryNews’ previous reports.
“We are trying to get more people to chew gum, and as the ‘challenger brand’ to the category, we are tasked with adding value,” Merrick said.
“We create some of [consumers’] favorite treats in sugar-free gum form and give them unique and innovative options. We believe this is a good kind of business move for the overall gum category of confection.”
The growth of Project 7’s gum line has outpaced the overall sugarless gum category, according to IRI data that includes total US multi-outlets with c-stores for the latest 52 weeks ending Oct 2, 2016.
The company posted total dollar sales of over $7m during the period, an increase of 141% compared to last year, the data showed. Meanwhile, the overall sugarless gum category declined by 1.29%.
The weight loss and diet program is partially owned by US media sensation, Oprah Winfrey,who holds a 10% share, according to US Securities and Exchange Commission. But the majority of Weight Watchers is owned by investment firm Artal Luxembourg.
AP reported Weight Watchers’ former CEO James Chambers stepped down in September, 2016, as he struggled to build on the momentum the company gained from an alliance with Oprah Winfrey. Chambers was previously the president of snacks and confectionery division of Kraft Foods North America, before the company’s completing the spin-off of Kraft Foods Group and the creation of Mondelēz in 2012, according to his LinkedIn.
Since the resignation of Chambers, Weight Watchers has created an interim office of CEO, which includes the company’s chief financial officer Nicholas Hotchkin, director Christopher Sobecki and director Thilo Semmelbauer, US Securities and Exchange Commission shows.