SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has welcomed its first locally manufacturer chewing gum dubbed Mintex, following local sweets manufacturer Richester Foods pumping in millions of rands in establishment of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

Given the popularity of the candy, it’s strange that South Africa for the longest time was not manufacturing its own chewing gum, until now.

Richester Foods co-founder and managing director Dr Hussein Cassim notes that the reason other sweets companies have avoided investing in local chewing gum manufacturing facilities for so long is likely high barriers to entry, reports South Africa Today.

“Producing chewing gum is an expensive, labour-intensive, and technology-sensitive process, even compared to bubble gum, so most other major brands choose to rather make it at a super-site somewhere else in the world, and then import and distribute the product to other countries,” he says.

In a bid to challenge the position of multinational chewing gum giants and keeping with its South Africa-first strategy, Richester Foods has invested millions towards purchasing the specialised equipment needed from Europe.

The technology has been set up in its new chewing gum division at its sweets factory in Centurion near Gauteng, creating 30 new jobs throughout the gum’s supply chain.

Explaining the production process Dr Hussein highlighted, “Mintex is the most complex product we have. Chewing gum is different from bubble gum in that it goes through five additional steps in the production process.

“After extrusion, the gum is rolled and scored, and then rests before being coated several times with specialised ingredients to its desired thickness. It then rests again before being polished, and finally wrapped and packaged.”

It takes roughly 36 hours in total to make a single piece of gum, but Richester’s modern facilities enables it to produces roughly 600 sachets a minute or three million single gums per week.

Individually wrapped for added hygiene and convenience, Mintex two-piece chewing gum sachets comes in three flavour variants: the traditional Peppermint, the cool Spearmint, and the Extra Strong for an intense burst of cool air.

The gum is also vegan, gelatine-free and halaal, appealing to a broad consumer base.

Since its soft launch in May, Richester Foods has already sold in excess of five million Mintex sachets to select wholesalers, Cash ‘n Carry’s, and informal traders.

Preparation is now underway to launch the product nationwide, and Richester has already received extensive interest from retailers looking to stock the gum on their shelves.

According to Global Data, gum market in South Africa comprising of both chewing gum and bubble gum registered a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.47% during the period 2015 to 2020 with a sales value of R 1.401 billion (US$84m) in 2020, an increase of 2.32% over 2019.

The market achieved its strongest performance in 2017, when it grew by 5.84% over its previous year and its weakest performance in 2016, when it increased by 1.71% over 2015.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE