While citing previous developments in a number of its own ingredients, the group said that growth in sugar free chewing gum was predominantly being driven by a desire for products offering new texture, flavour and functionality solutions. Opportunities Beneo-Palatinit market research manager Sabine Wetzel said that developments within ingredients towards more health-focused products were opening up greater opportunities for gum and sweet makers. "Sugar free products have been significantly improved in recent years in terms of taste, colour, texture and the choice of products available," she stated. "Rather than being seen as a lesser version of sugared equivalents, sugar free gum is becoming a standalone market in its own right." According to the company, the manner in which gum is being consumed has changed to embrace developments such as pallets, balls and various other shapes and products. Flavour variety and retention was another area the group said was another key area for manufacturers, who are producing more exotic sounding fruit-based flavours without having to add sugar. Euro demand Beneo-Palatinit, referring to AC Nielsen figures, said that 85 per cent of chewing gum purchased in Germany last year was sugar free, an increase of 12 per cent over 2006, a level of growth reflected in many key European markets. The findings also found that consumption of sugar-free gum in Italy was up to 90 per cent, while sales in the Turkish market were up by 12 per cent, while revenues from sugared gum declined by 10 per cent. In addition, over the last two years, the Spanish and Czech markets for gum have evolved to be completely sugar-free, the research stated. Isomalt The company said that in meeting this demand, it has looked to provide ingredients such as its beet-sugar derived Isomalt, which the group claims provides mild sweetness with any aftertaste following consumption. Variants of the product such as the Isomalt GS ingredient can allow manufacturers to produce gum with crunchy uniform protective coatings.