Mints and gums are must-stocks for wholesalers’ independent customers in the confectionery aisle and represent a big opportunity for depots, says Andrew Don

Name a mint, any mint. Bet you thought of Polo, didn’t you? The Nestlé-owned £32m brand, famously known as ‘the mint with the hole’, celebrated its 70th anniversary last August and continues to be a category staple.

Polo debuted in 1948, but most manufacturers of mints and gums, have continued to keep the category fresh with new products, flavours and formats.

Add-on flavours

Ferrero, which owns Tic Tac, says mints and gums continue to see increased consumer demand for a range of fruit flavours – a trend that has developed over the past few years.

The business lists its Tic Tac Lime & Orange and Strawberry Fields products in its core range to reflect that demand. Jodie Wood, Ferrero’s business unit controller, says the company continually seeks to develop what it calls “insight-driven” new product development to ensure wholesalers have a range of products to offer retail customers.

“Our Lime & Orange product is well established in the market and still growing, with value sales up by 3.74%,” says Wood. Strawberry Fields is growing at an even greater rate, she says – up 7.75% in value sales, showing how wholesalers and their retail customers can capitalise on the trend towards fruit flavours.

Stronger mint hits

Ferrero has recognised the increase in demand for stronger mint flavours, which it says is now the third biggest sub-category. “That demand is largely coming from new shoppers and is creating incremental growth within the category, driven by more young adults buying extra-strong mint products,” says Wood.

Ferrero’s new Intense Mint Tic Tac is the company’s answer to the demand for stronger mint flavours, which, alongside Fresh Mint, ensures the range offers something different for a wide range of people, Ferrero believes.

Wood claims Tic Tac products also cater to consumers’ increasing awareness of health and well-being because of the small size of each sweet.


Bottle formats are seeing increasing success, with the trend towards snacking at work, and eating and drinking while on the road, key to their performance, says Dan Newell, marketing director at Mars Wrigley Confectionery.

The company’s bottle formats in two sizes offer either 46 or 60 pieces and meet this demand, he adds – ideal for enjoyment sitting at the desk or in the car.

The company encourages consumers to ‘Eat, Drink, Chew’ – which means chewing sugar-free gum after eating or drinking – to help remove lingering food and keep teeth clean and healthy. More than 97% of its gum sales are from sugar-free products and Extra sugar-free gum, which the Oral Health Foundation has accredited. The products serve as “an oral care solution”, says Newell, for those who “graze” frequently throughout the day.

Brand leader

Trebor lays claim to holding the title of the UK’s number-one mint brand with a 35% share of the market in the UK. It says four out of five of the top-selling products in the market are Trebor SKUs, pointing to Nielsen value sales data.

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, the brand’s manufacturer, says the Trebor range is successful in helping to drive sales for wholesalers and their retail customers because its portfolio of hard, soft and sugar-free mints meets the needs for “refreshment” and “confidence” while also catering to on-the-go shoppers with Soft Mints and sugar-free Mighties, which come in a 100g pot format.


Fox’s company Big Bear Confectionery commissioned independent research last year, which revealed the top three considerations for consumers deciding what confectionery to buy. They were price, quality and a recognisable brand.

Andrew Ovens, Big Bear marketing manager, says: “With the travel and commuter market pinpointed as key sales growth areas, we’ve been working hard to create an offering that appeals to this market.

“As a producer of heritage brands, we know our products are popular among older consumers. However, one of the big surprises from the research was that the brand heritage massively over-indexes among 18-to-29-year-olds.”

Merchandising tips

Ferrero’s Jodie Wood says in-depot displays are crucial to growing sales and drive customer engagement. “Creating innovative and impactful displays ensures key launches receive stand-out in depot and inspire customers.

“Ferrero will continue to support the wholesale channel by advising on range, space and continued investment in innovative and impactful PoS.

“Wholesalers should also consider online activation of brands and ensure they are as visible and engaging online as they are in the depot,” she adds.

Strong activation

Ferrero maintains that it works with wholesalers across the country to ensure their fixture is effectively merchandised with the leading brands clearly signposted. “We offer strong activation in depot during promotions and launches of new varieties or limited editions to drive interest in the category, while ensuring a continual presence of our core range to support sales all year round,” says Wood.

She points out that it is a diverse category, and wholesalers should ensure they have a full understanding of the different sub-categories and formats within it.

“Clearly merchandise by sub-category, brand and flavour, making it easy for retailers to identify the bestsellers, which should form their core range,” she advises.

Make an impact

Suppliers also offer display solutions for retailers’ stores, which can be offered via wholesalers’ depots or websites, to drive impact in store and sales for the retailer and wholesaler.

Jo Alvarado, Mars Wrigley Confectionery customer excellence director, adds that availability in wholesalers is key where gum is concerned. He advises wholesalers stock the bestsellers, champion new products and offer a wide choice of formats.

Dan Newell, marketing director, Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Supplier viewpoint

“Gum is a highly impulsive category. By optimising sales, you will grow profits and help your customers do so, too. Gum displays are space-efficient and easily merchandised. Almost half of shoppers buy gum and 62% of single gum purchases are unplanned. Advise your customers to make gum visible.

“Almost half of gum consumers chew gum weekly and expect to find it at the front of store, so it is the primary location for ranging, ensuring shoppers’ ‘must-have’ is available. Sugar-free gum is beneficial for dental health, in that it helps keep teeth strong and reduces dryness.”

Retailer viewpoints

Alison Greenow, Pughs @ Londis, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford

“We’ve got Polo, sugar-free Polo, Trebor Mints, Trebor Soft Mints, Extra chewing gum, Airwaves, Juicy Fruit and Extra Mega. We haven’t got the space for more. We sell a lot of mints and chewing gums. We get good support from Londis and have a rep who comes out.”

Justin Taylor, Spar, Winford Ford, Bristol

“It’s not a category that gets promoted very often. The category sells itself. It’s not the sort of thing you are going to influence people to buy by having 10p reduction on a packet of chewing gum. Most people buy it for a reason, such as to freshen their breath.”

Aron Greff, Farrants Newsagents, Cobham, Surrey

“We get offered a lot of category support from Costcutter, but we don’t tend to use it as much as some other businesses. David Worsfold, the shop owner, has his own vision. In the past month we’ve probably added 10 different chewing gums and mints to our selection.”

Joe Williams, The Village Shop, Hook Norton, Banbury

“Sales on the small stick packs of chewing gum are going down, but we are selling more of the bigger packs and the tubs. We like the Spar £1 packet of Mint Imperials. The counter solutions that some of the manufacturers are offering are great, but it’s all the products they want on it and nothing else. A more bespoke solution would be better for sales generally.”


Estimated number of senior management and executive positions in the top 30 UK wholesale companies that are occupied by women.

It took Vaseva Qarau three years to work her way up from receptionist to sales office manager at London wholesaler Wanis. She believes it wouldn’t have happened had she not attracted the attention of co-owner Sanjay Wadhwani: “I introduced myself to him,” Qarau recalls. “A month later, he approached me and suggested I become a sales rep. He sent me out with a colleague and a van loaded with lager and said, ‘Sell it.’ I sold five cases to five different clients. Without his initial support, I would not have progressed.”

Product news

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    Trebor Cool Drops comes fresh from the Mondelez stable and packs less than 100 calories per 28g flip-top box. Varieties include Sugar-Free Extra Fresh and Sugar-Free Lemon.

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    Mondelez is running its Trebor Get Minted campaign for the third consecutive year in which consumers and retailers stocking the official PoS can win up to £5,000.

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    Ferrero unveiled Tic Tac Intense Mint last September to appeal to consumers demanding an extra-strong mint – the third most popular flavour in the category. It is designed to be eye-catching in store.

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    The Open Up campaign from Ferrero, which ran last summer, resulted in the brand enjoying 2.2% volume uplift in the core Tic Tac range featured in the ad.

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    Big Bear Confectionery successfully trialled new XXX Minty Balls last year. It combines the strong mint taste of XXX with a mint imperial format. It is sold in travel packs and is available to wholesalers nationwide.

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    Fox’s Glacier Spearmints, from Big Bear Confectionery, is the first new mint edition in Fox’s 100-year history with a milder, sweeter flavour than classic Fox’s Glacier Mints.

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    Mars Wrigley Confectionery introduced Starburst Chewing Gum last year in Fruity Mixies, Strawberry Cubes and Red Berry Sticks. The sugar-free product bridges the gap between gums and sweets.

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    Mars Wrigley Confectionery launched its Extra Minis Handyboxes in a 48-piece handybox format. They are available in Peppermint and Spearmint.

Takeaway points

1. High visibility – This will boost sales, increase profitability and save retail customers having to track down mints and gums amid a myriad of other products.

2. Dual-function – Mints and gums are not just treat products, but also have a role to play in dental hygiene.

3. Key occasions – Snacking at work and eating on the go while travelling in the car and on crowded trains are key for this category.

4. Stock multiple brands – Make sure a variety of formats, flavours and strengths are in depots.

5. Merchandise correctly – Speak to suppliers about in-depot displays and merchandising material.

A refreshed market

Make the most of your bottled water category


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