Plastic-free gum company Milliways has completed a £3m ($3.9m) funding round and plans to expand its distribution throughout the UK.

Founded in 2021, the sustainable chewing gum manufacturer will use the fresh capital, which came from a number of private-equity investors, to “turbocharge” growth in the UK and initiate what it hopes will be consumers’ transition to plastic- and aspartame-free gum.

The start-up raised £1m in September 2021 and secured its first major supermarket listing with Sainsbury’s in April this year. The UK brand is now stocked in approximately 6,000 stores nationwide. Stockists include chains Tesco, WHSmith and Whole Foods, alongside independent outlets.

Milliways is planning to invest further in R&D, increase awareness around the plastic ingredients used in conventional gum and explore international expansion, according to a statement. Just Food has asked Milliways for more details about exploring overseas opportunities.

The brand’s founder and CEO Tom Raviv said: “We’re now at a monumental moment in the industry where brands like ours have a voice and a real opportunity to scale effectively. Securing this funding round with such a high calibre of investors is testament to the incredible opportunity that lies ahead as we aim to make Milliways a household name to everyone, everywhere, every day for all the right reasons.”

Describing the gum industry as “a David and Goliath story”, he added that the company is “just getting started”.

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“Our success to date has largely been driven by several key factors. Firstly by our ability to address growing consumer demands for healthier, more sustainable and innovative products – specifically with the increasing awareness that big brand gum is made from chewy plastic. Secondly, we’re incredibly fortunate to have such experienced and knowledgeable investors that continue to support us as we grow, and thirdly, a great team working hard behind the scenes to drive our brand forward.”

Investors in the funding round included private-equity firm KLT, chewing gum industry veteran Leon Amram, who sold Intergum to Cadbury in 2007, and David Morris, partner at Blandford Capital and ex-board member of SodaStream.

KLT’s CEO Brad Kark said: “We are truly excited about our partnership with Milliways and Tom as they make significant progress in developing a world-class product, strong team and unique brand. We are looking forward to supporting Milliways with their global ambitions of providing consumers with a sustainable and enjoyable chewing gum experience while positively impacting the environment.”

According to Milliways, chewing gum is the second most littered item in the world, just behind cigarettes, with most of the gum being non-biodegradable single-use plastic.

Its chewing gum packets sell at an RRP of between £0.99 and £1.25.