Retail sales of chewing gum in Germany rose 4.4% in 2000 to reach €614.6m, according to figures from the German Chewing Gum Association (Kaugummi-Verband e.V.) in Bonn, whose members are some of the largest chewing gum producers in Germany. They include Leaf, Wrigley, SmithKline Beecham and Hitschler.

German chewing gum sales have grown moderately every year since 1995. Per capita consumption of chewing gum in Germany is 7% higher than in France, but 15% lower than in the Scandinavian countries, 10% lower than in Belgium, 3% lower than in the UK and 65% lower than in the USA.

Almost two-thirds of chewing gum consumed in Germany is sugar-free. Within the sugar-free category, growth was highest in the cosmetic chewing gum segment* (+11%). Of all segments, bubble gum recorded the highest growth figure (+23%) in 2000. The level of chewing gum consumption declines steadily as the consumer ages, but this does not imply that chewing gum is primarily a product for children, says the Chewing Gum Association. In the age group 40-55 a third of consumers in Germany consume chewing gum at least once a week. In the 10-15 age group the figure is 87%.

By Karel Beckman, correspondent

* In Germany, some manufacturers have decided to regard and label their dental health gums as a cosmetic product rather than a food. This approach permits the use of claims which may not be permissible on food labels. It is likely that claims such as "Active protection against plaque formation and caries" have boosted the success of this market segment and also may have contributed to the health image of chewing gum generally.

International comparison of per capita chewing gum consumption (Germany = index 100)

SOURCE: Kaugummi-Verband e.V.