Cracking Britain's chewing gum market

Packages of Wrigley's-brand chewing gum are displayed in a store.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: The people at Cadbury Schweppes have spent the past year trying to figure out one of the world's great mysteries: How to crack the British chewing gum market. Wrigley has more than 98 percent, but next week Cadbury launches its assault. David Litterick has been covering this story for London's Daily Telegraph. So, David, is Britain a big chewing gum market?

DAVID LITTERICK: It's fairly small. The U.S. I think the figures say, everybody in the U.S. chews about 180 pieces of gum a year. In the U.K. that's down to about 130.

JAGOW: Oh yeah over here we're just smacking our gum all the time.

LITTERICK: Well I think in the U.K. certainly there's still that kind of snobbish element that if you chew gum you're seen as uncouth or something like that.

JAGOW: So tell me, exactly what Cadbury is trying to do to capture that market?

LITTERICK: Well they've been developing these flavors that they hope will appeal to the U.K. consumer. They'll probably be helped somewhat by the fact that in the summer of this year, there's a smoking ban in public places which comes into effect in England. So there may be quite a lot of people looking for chewing gum around about that time.

JAGOW: Now I was really intrigued reading about Cadbury's Gum Center of Excellence. Now what happens there?

LITTERICK: Well there's a building in New Jersey and basically it's a science and technology center and they have sensory panels there whose job it is basically to test new flavors, to test their intensity, and they develop different kinds of gum depending on whether you want something which is going to be chewable for an hour or whether you're targeting a consumer that just wants a quick fix and then throw it away.

JAGOW: But David, what about the people who stick it on the bedpost overnight? What about those people?

LITTERICK: You joke about it, but that's actually one of the things that they're really trying to develop. They come up with sort of special secret formulas and compounds that they can add to the flavor so that it releases more slowly, so that if you do stick it on the bedpost overnight, it's still fresh and flavorsome when you get there back in the morning

JAGOW: Of course there's one other problem, you know, sticking to your shoe.

LITTERICK: Yes well somebosy described that to me as the Holy Grail od chewing gum manufacturers but they don't seem to have cracked it just yet.

JAGOW: Alright David, thanks a lot.

LITTERICK: No problem, thanks, bye.

JAGOW: David Litterick is a reporter with the Daily Telegraph.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...