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INTERVIEW

“India fastest growing market for chewing gum with 15% CAGR”
Monday, 20 May, 2024, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
The product is positioned as India’s first plastic-free chewing gum, made with special tree sap. The Chicle sap is a natural gum usually used in making chewing gum and other products. It is collected from several species of Mesoamerican trees. Gud Gum brand is vegan, biodegradable, sugar-free and 100 per cent natural. It comes in flavours of charcoal, spearmint, raspberry, cinnamon, fennel and cardamom. The Bengaluru-based company has made a positive impact in the chewing gum market.

Founded by two brothers, Bhuvan B Nagori and Mayank B Nagori, Gud Gum is available across retail outlets in Tier 1 & 2 towns and has a significant online presence.  Both Bhuvan and Mayank were featured on Shark Tank show to present their business to a panel of investors or sharks, who decide whether to invest in their company.  Mayank B Nagori, co-founder, Gud Gum who is a chemical engineer from BMS College of Engineering and Bengaluru and holds M.Sc in Food Science, University of Nottingham UK, in an interaction with Nandita Vijayasimha, said, “No one has endorsed the health benefits of chewing gum. India is the fastest growing market across the world for chewing gum with a CAGR of 15%.”  Excerpts:

What led you to start Gud Gum ?
Regular chewing gums are all made of plastic. The gum base in the ingredient list is nothing but poly vinyl acetate used to make fevicol, glue and tyres. Not just the packaging but even the gum that we chew is single-use plastic. When disposed carelessly, these chewing gums cause a lot of havoc in the surroundings. They stick around in our surrounding for thousands of years causing a huge litter problem. Moreover, the Indian population does not know that regular chewing gums are made of plastic. This plastic can also enter the digestive system by getting stuck into the oral cavity while chewing regular gum then swallowing. Gud Gum, which we pioneered, is India’s first biodegradable chewing gum. Just like vegetable peels, Gud Gum biodegrades in the soil within 3 months. Moreover, we utilised no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. The chewing gums contain xylitol which is better for the teeth as it prevents cavities since it has not plastic. It is kid-friendly. Gud Gum is made with a special tree sap which is harvested from the forests. It helps run livelihoods of tribal families. Also we wish to mention that using the Chicle sap we prevented 8.5 kilogram of plastic from entering the environment.

What is the acceptance of this product?
It was initially difficult to get people to accept this chewing gum that doesn't taste as good as the artificially coloured & flavoured gums. Another deterrent was that Gud Gum brand is expensive. But we changed the way people looked at the product by endorsing the health benefits of gums. With this we were able to get more and more consumers to convert into being chewing gum-friendly chewers. People who would never chew a gum, chew gum now because sugar-free gums are actually great for people’s teeth.

Where was the product researched and manufactured? Also could you share details about the infrastructure of the company and the total strength of your workforce?
We started doing initial trials during the Covid pandemic lockdown at our home kitchen in Bengaluru.  All the R&D, ever since, has happened in Bengaluru itself. We have our own production unit. Everything about the gum is developed in-house. The manufacturing is semi-automatic. We have 16 people on the production & packaging floor. These are people from economically weaker sections and with unfinished education background. We have trained and up-skilled them to be able to manufacture the gums and even pack, dispatch them. We have a 1,300 square feet factory/workshop in South Bengaluru.  In the administration team, we have four people who oversee all aspects of the business. Currently we have a capacity of manufacturing upto 20,000 chewing gums a day.

Is the product available in offline outlets? What was the reason for you to take it online?
Yes, in about 150 stores across all Tier 1 & 2 towns of the country - there is a map of stores on our website. It is easier to start selling online while setting up a base offline. All the more, our target audience is the one that shops online. It is also easy to educate people about the product online & reach larger masses.

The product is made of tree sap. Does the company have its own tree orchard as would it not be difficult to source the gum otherwise?
 We don't have our own orchard. This is harvested by tribal people in the rainforests.

Is this the first product in the market in India and globally are there similar products?
This is the first-of-its kind in India. There are a few more brands abroad that make a similar product.

When was the company started and how has its performance being so far?
We launched the product in March of 2022. It's been 2 years now. We have seen 3x growth in revenue from our first to second year. We are anticipating a similar growth in our third year as well.

How would you describe the current scene for chewing gum in India?
The chewing gum industry in India has been very stagnant for the past 2-3 decades with the same large players making mainstream synthetic chewing gums. No one has endorsed the health benefits of chewing gum. India is the fastest growing market across the world for chewing gum with a CAGR of 15%.

What are the problems faced by Gud Gum to market and create an impact in the market?
There are a few challenges. One is the taste which we are not able to match that of the artificially coloured & flavoured gums that the consumers are used to. Second is price which we are not able to match the cost of the plastic gums with sugar as a sweetener that the consumers are used to. Third is the listing fees as the supermarkets usually have high listing and placement costs which is a sort of a hindrance when we want to list in more number of stores.

What are the future plans going ahead for Gud Gum?
The plan on hand is to upscale production. The intent is to be present in more than 2,500 retail stores in India. We aim to become one of the large chewing gum brands of India.
 
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