The Decline of Chewing Gum?: A Post-Pandemic Reality

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.11 - 2024 3:33 PM CET

The pandemic has reshaped many aspects of our lives, including our chewing gum habits.

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Since the start of COVID-19 in 2020, chewing gum sales have plummeted by as much as a third and have struggled to recover even by 2024. With masks and social distancing reducing the need for fresh breath, the future of chewing gum is uncertain.

In the U.S., chewing gum sales have seen a marginal increase, rising by less than 1% last year to about 1.2 billion units. However, this is still a 32% decrease from 2018's figures. While dollar sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels, this recovery is largely attributed to inflation.

Globally, chewing gum sales increased by 5% to over $16 billion, yet this is still 10% lower than in 2018.

A Shift in Consumer Preferences

The decline in chewing gum popularity can be attributed to several factors. An increasing number of people are cutting down on sugar and carbs, steering clear of sugary gum varieties. The controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners has also made consumers cautious.

Additionally, awareness about gum contributing to litter has grown, with Singapore banning chewing gum in 1992 due to public transit messes.

How Brands are Responding

Facing these challenges, some companies have chosen to divest their chewing gum brands. For example, Mondelez International sold Chiclets, Bubblicious, Dentyne, and Trident to Perfetti Van Melle in 2022. Other companies are simply shuttering their chewing gum brands altogether, as was the case with Ferrara Candy Company discontinuing its Fruit Stripe gum earlier this year.

Despite these setbacks, not all hope is lost. Companies like Mars Inc., which owns Wrigley, are rebranding gum as a tool for mental wellness, promoting its stress-relieving and concentration-boosting benefits.

The Future of Chewing Gum

As chewing gum attempts to redefine its place in the market, we may see it positioned as more than just a solution for bad breath. The industry might pivot towards health-conscious ingredients and flavors, in an effort to entice consumers back to this once staple product. Whether these efforts will reignite the public's interest in chewing gum remains to be seen.

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