Close on the heels of its take-over of Joyco’s operations in India as part of its global acquisition of the Spanish Joyco Group, confectionery major Wrigley is believed to be setting the pace for its first launch in the country: a sugar-free chewing gum brand called Orbit.
The product is expected to hit the retail stores in September 2004, sources said, though the company refused to confirm the launch. Orbit’s launch assumes significance since that will make Wrigley the first confectionery company in the country to tap the sugar-free segment, a growing market worldwide, but almost non-existent at home.
While antiquity of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act has so far restricted confectionery majors such as Perfetti Van Melle, HLL, Nestle and ITC from tapping this high potential category, a draft notification allowing sugar- confectionery issued last year by the health ministry could be a trigger behind Wrigley’s Orbit launch in India.
It is, however, not clear whether Wrigley plans to import the product or manufacture it locally at its chewing gum facility in Bangalore or at Joyco’s factory located at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. A questionnaire sent to Wrigley India on the issue elicited no response.
A sugar-free chewing gum, Orbit is a widely popular brand from Wrigley and is available in variants including sugar-free Orbit lozenges drops, Orbit Health and Orbit Ice White.
Wrigley’s proposed Orbit launch is also seen as a step towards strengthening its chewing gum portfolio which has not performed as well so far. Globally, Wrigley is known as the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum, with global sales of over $3 billion. Now, with Joyco’s distribution to fall back upon, Wrigley may try to leverage the distribution and marketing strength.
Joyco’s brands in India include Boomer bubble gum, Pim Pom lollipops, and Solano candy besides Bonkers soft chews and Trex chewing gum. The company with an estimated turnover of Rs 200 crore has a leading position in bubble gum and lollipops, while it is No. 2 in deposited candy segments.
Meanwhile, according to sources, restructuring of the Indian operations as a fall-out of global acquisition has been completed.
According to them, Joyco head Arun Hegde has been named managing director of the yet-to-be officially name entity while Sanjay Katoch, the erstwhile head of Wrigley India, has been named head marketing and sales.
Wrigley’s acquisition of certain confectionery businesses of the Joyco Group from Agrolimen, a privately-held Spanish conglomerate, was closed in April 2004 for approximately $260 million.
Apart from its key brands like Boomer bubble gum, Pim Pom lollipops, and Solano candy, Wrigley also acquired major sales and production operations in China, India and Spain, smaller commercial operations in France, Italy and Poland, as well as Cafosa, Joyco’s gum base business.
Wrigley’s other brands include Doublemint, Wrigley’s Spearmint, Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Extra, Freedent, Hubba Bubba, Orbit, Excel, Eclipse, Airwaves, Alpine, Cool Air, and P.K. chewing gums.