Mints Offer Optimism in Confectionery Segment

gum and mintsWhile a staple in convenience stores, gum sales continued their decline last year, down 7.2% in dollar sales and almost 8% in unit sales from 2012, according to data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). Dollar sales of regular gum declined a little over 6%, unit sales more than 10%, while sugarless decreased 7.4% in dollar sales, almost 7% in unit sales from 2012.

That downward trend is also pretty much what category manager Danna Huskey has been experiencing at E-Z Mart convenience stores.“Sales and unit movement in the gum category were down again in 2013, even though we ran some strong promotions,” Huskey said. “Fortunately, I’m picking up those dollars in the mint segment.”

According to IRI, breath fresheners, which includes Tic Tacs, Ice Breakers and Altoids, showed sales increases of over 6% and unit sales of over 2% in convenience stores. However, sales of plain mints, which includes Mentos and Lifesavers, dropped in dollar sales a little over 1% and in unit sales 4.5%.

Total mint sales at Texarkana, Texas-based E-Z Mart rose 4.6% and unit sales were up 4.4% over 2012.“Perfetti and Ferrara assisted us with a couple of promotions during the year, which brought awareness to the mint category,” Huskey said. “I’m hoping to see a continued partnership with our manufacturers in that category to help grow sales even more.” (Perfetti, makers of Mentos mints, is one of the only plain mint manufacturers to see sales gains in 2013, IRI reported.) Huskey is also hoping gum manufacturers will take an active role in promoting their products to breathe new life into the category. Mondelez, maker of Stride, Trident and Dentyne, has been the most aggressive when it comes to promotion. She explained that Mondelez and Perfetti have reached out to promote their entire lines with off-the-shelf promotions, coupons and POS at store level.

Some promising innovations are the introduction of new flavors, particularly Dr Pepper, by Hubba Bubba in the chunk gum arena and Bazooka’s wallet pack. Both are “showing some good sales numbers.”

SKU Saturation
One of the problems in the gum category, retailers told CSD, is that there are too many new items coming out all at once.

Gum manufacturers are packaging items in bottles, mini bottles, zipper pouches, micro-packs and pre-priced packs; they are thinking if it works in a slab, let’s try a pellet, Huskey said. They are also adding energy and vitamins, and there are too many confusingly similar flavor profiles such as peppermint, smooth mint, cool mint, wintermint, polar mint, fresh mint. “To make matters worse, we’re continually pulling flavors at the manufacturers’ request to add the newest innovation to try to get the consumer interest up enough to try the next greatest item,” Huskey said. ◆

Gum and Mints Face Challenges

Gum and mints have had a difficult year in 2013. Gum brought in $1.112 billion in dollar sales, down over 7%, while mints saw dollar sales of $79.07 million, down 1.09%.

                                  Dollar Sales    Sales % Change    Unit Sales    Sales % Change          Avg. Unit Price
Total Gum               $1.112 Bil                (7.21)            839.35 Mil           (7.89)                          $1.32
Sugarless Gum       $921.96 Mil            (7.43)            616.06 Mil           (6.93)                         $1.50
Regular Gum            $189.64 Mil           (6.15)            223.30 Mil          (10.46)                        $.85

                                       Dollar Sales      Sales % Change    Unit Sales    Sales % Change        Avg. Unit Price
Breath Fresheners    $216.63 Mil             6.30                 126.92 Mil          2.38                           $1.71
Mints                             $79.07 Mil              (1.09)                  65.53 Mil         (4.53)                         $1.14

Source: Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Total U.S. Convenience AllScan, 52 Weeks Ended Dec.29, 2013



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