Advances in nutraceutical gums provide consumers with value-added benefits beyond just fresh breath and bubbles.

Breath freshening chewing gums are being blown away by the segment’s new leaders of the pack-functional gums.

Functional gums will experience a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% up to 2010 in the U.S., according to Global Business Insights. Compare that number to the expected growth rate of sugar confectionery-1.5%--and it’s clear that good-for-you gums are worth watching.

The delivery system inherent in chewing gum provides confectioners as well as pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to offer not only breath freshening and teeth whitening benefits, but also to expand into the ever-growing universe of providing consumers with nutraceutical enhancements.

And while chocolate has received plenty of attention for its healthful attributes, chewing gums provide many unique benefits of their own.

Take Fennobon’s cholesterolic-lowering XyliDent Pro gum. Just recently acquired by Cloetta Fazer, the Finnish company’s fascinating new launch contains heart-healthy Reducol, which contains plant sterols to lower cholesterol.

While a cholesterol-lowering gum certainly isn’t commonplace, many manufacturers are taking advantage of chewing gum as a prime carrier to capitalize on the flourishing better-for-you market.

White hot whitening and dental gums

One of chewing gums’ most sought after benefits is providing a cost-effective and convenient way to whiten teeth. Indeed Cadbury’s Trident White brand contains a patented and proprietary surfactant technology that features an ingredient that breaks up superficial teeth stains.

In a world of whitening tooth pastes and strips, Trident White’s whitening properties make it a top seller since its launch in 2002. However, the chewing gum also features a “deeper” benefit known as Recaldent, a patented remineralizing ingredient that delivers calcium and phosphate and strengthens the tooth’s surface.

The ability to strengthen teeth also helped chewing gum giant Wrigley garner the coveted American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. The company’s Orbit and Extra sugar-free gum brands earned the seal for not only strengthening teeth, but also for decreasing plaque acid by increasing buffer levels and preventing cavities by stimulating saliva.

The ADA honor makes Wrigley’s brands the first and only U.S. chewing gums to receive the seal.

Gum geared up

While many manufacturers continue to tout chewing gum’s dental advantages, some are opting to capitalize on gum’s ability to provide full-body benefits. Energy-boosting gums such as Houston-based Mad Croc and Jersey City, N.J.-based GumRunners have both successfully captured the popularity of energy drinks and mints to a gum format.

Mad Croc’s Energy Gum line claims that “if you can carry a pack of gum you can carry on through classes that last longer than your five-minute attention span.” Available in Cinnamon, Citrus, Peppermint and Spearmint flavors, the gums pack B Vitamins, taurine and caffeine to fuel the energy that many consumers find necessary in today’s fast-paced world.

On the same not, GumRunner’s energized offering-dubbed Jolt Gum-was introduced in 2003, with national distribution beginning in 2005. According to data from all channels (food, drug, mass and convenience), Jolt Gum is the top energy gum, says GumRunners co-founder Kevin Gass.

“Jolt Gum targets the huge intersection of gum ($2 billion-plus) and energy drinks ($3 billion-plus) and shares the same brand with Jolt Soda,” Gass adds. “Jolt Gum contains caffeine, guarana and ginseng to give a quick and long-lasting energy boost.”

Chewing to slim down

Hoping to mimic the success of its Jolt Gum, GumRunners launched another nutraceutical with Nutra-Trim Gum in 2007. Just as the name suggests, Nutra-Trim Gum targets the $14-billion weight-management category.

“Nutra-Trim is an extra help that is either a good beginning to a weight management program or an excellent complement to an existing program,” Gass explains.

The gum contains green tea extract, L-Carnitine and Chromium Picolinate to help increase metabolism and decrease appetite.

Nutra-Trim, like many other functional gums, clearly separates itself from the obesity connotations that are often linked to traditional chocolate and sugar confectionery products.

While Nutra-Trim’s effectiveness at shrinking waistlines remains to be seen, its “better for you” associations make it a popular choice among today’s health-minded consumers.

Functional, yet fun

While today’s adult consumers demand more than simply great taste from their food, they also strive to provide their children with the same high nutritional standards. That’s where a product such as Vitaball becomes key.

Distributed by Cromwell, Conn.-based Amerifit Brands, Vitaballs are colorful, bite-sized vitamin gum balls that both kids-and plenty of adults for that matter-have taken quite a liking to.

“Many kids do not like chewable vitamins or pills,” says Dave O’Brien, Amerifit Brands’ brand manager for Vitaball. “Vitaball combines something that kids love-gum-with something that parents want their kids to have-vitamins. It makes taking vitamins fun.”

Launched in 2002, Vitaball’s target audience is children aged 5-15, but O’Brien adds that plenty of adults enjoy the product as well.

Most recently, the company introduced Vitaball Minis, which like their larger Vitaball counterpart contain 100% recommended daily allowance of 10 essential vitamins. To attain the full benefits, the gum should be chewed for at least 5 minutes.

But just like regular gum balls, Vitaballs taste great and even allow for some bubble-blowing. Just goes to show that even as gum matures to help you hype up or even lose weight, some things never go out of style.

All in Gum boasts multiple advantages

Leading gum base supplier, Cafosa, recently introduced All in Gum, a directly compressible powder gum made with gum base and different polyols.

All in Gum’s versatile nature simplifies functional compressed gum production. It may be customized to any specific need-sugar or sugar-free, acid or non-acid, any flavor, shape, functional or medicated.

When used with active ingredients, All in Gum boasts many benefits. For instance, the product does not require high temperatures during processing. The intake can also be balanced and controlled, allowing for gradual release and absorption. Moreover, moisture exposure poses no threat since the formulas contain no liquids.

By eliminating production steps, All in Gum allows manufacturers to create better products in an efficient, cost-effective way.