Wrigley Chews Over New Products

15 September 2005

US confectionary giant Wrigley has opened a "global innovation centre" to develop its product range.

The Chicago-headquartered company believes it must move beyond its chewing gum brands, which are 90% of its business, if it is to compete with rivals such as Cadbury Schweppes and Hershey.

The $45 million (€36m; £24m) centre was unveiled by chairman Bill Wrigley in the company's home town. He said: "The strategy of the company is now one of 'total confections'. Anything that you might consider a confectionary product today is something that we will certainly consider working on in terms of product development. It really is a wide range of possibilities."

Wrigley, with 40% of the world's $7 billion gum market, bought Altoids mints, Lifesavers candies and other brands from Kraft Foods for $1.5bn last year, as well as the Joyco confectionary businesses of Spain's Agrolimen for $260m.

It believes it can expand beyond its core business thanks to its sophisticated global distribution system. The family-owned conglomerate says its fastest-growing markets are in China and Russia, where it has invested millions.

Wrigley opened a 50,000-square-foot gum base factory in Shanghai last year and in May it started production in Silao, Mexico.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff