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Vitamin gum pioneer targets sports nutrition market with novel bubblegum

By Elaine Watson , 22-Nov-2011

The firm behind a patented technology enabling the incorporation of multiple vitamins and other bioactives in coated chewing gum, has developed a novel bubblegum targeting the sports nutrition market.

Vitaball’s Vitamingum SPORT bubblegum balls contain 25% of the recommended daily value for 11 vitamins, plus biotin and an electrolyte blend (sodium chloride and potassium citrate) and are targeted at active children and teenagers.

The gum follows the launch of Jelly Belly’s new ‘sports beans’, which contain electrolytes (sodium and potassium) for fluid balance, vitamins B1, B2 and B3 “to help burn carbohydrates and fat” and vitamin C “to protect muscles and cells against oxidative damage”.

A gnat on an elephant…

While securing space in some retailers’ gum fixtures was well-nigh impossible owing to the market dominance of confectionery giants Wrigley (Mars) and Cadbury (Kraft), Vitamingum SPORT could be targeted at a different part of the store, Vitaball vice president sales and marketing Regis Nesbitt told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We’re such a small company in comparison to a Wrigley that we’re like a gnat on an elephant.

“We’ve got one stock keeping unit at Walgreens, but in general we’ve found that we have had had more success gaining small pockets of distribution with firms distributing to smaller stores and mom and pop stores that are prepared to try something new and different.

“But we’re hoping that the SPORT gum could enable us to go to a different section of the store, with sports nutrition products, energy shots or via clip strips in sporting goods areas.”

While the addition of one or two vitamins or minerals to gum is nothing new (Stride Spark with vitamins B6 and B12, Trident White with calcium, Trident Vitality with vitamin C) it is much harder to include a long list of different vitamins in gum without compromising flavor and texture, said Nesbitt, who patented the technology to make this possible in the mid 1990s (US no. 5,569, 477 ).

He is also working on an energy gum with vitamins, although the formula has not yet been finalized: “There have been caffeine driven energy gums on the market but many of them were quite bitter and it hurt the overall market,” he claimed.

“But if we can bring out a product that delivers but also tastes good I think there is a market opportunity there.”

Vitamingum Fresh

Vitaball sells the recently-revamped Vitamingum Fresh range of gum, which contains 10% of the recommended daily value for vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and folic acid, and 1.5% of the DV for biotin per serving (two pieces of gum).

The gum, which comes in spearmint, cinnamon and peppermint flavors, has been re-launched to focus more on fresh breath, said Nesbitt. “First and foremost, people want a good piece of gum that freshens the breath.”

The vitamins are an added benefit, said Nesbitt, who recently bought back the marketing rights to a patent he secured in 1996 covering the incorporation of nutrients into coated gum.

“We sold the marketing rights to the patent in 2000 but now have them back,” he said.

Generally water-soluble ingredients are incorporated into the gum center while acids and fat-soluble (or water-insoluble) bioactives are incorporated into the outer shell or coating of the gum.

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