Mint producers face shaky future: report

Posted by Isobel Drake on 17th July 2009

The latest research from UK research firm Mintel has discovered the market for mints is suffering.

After seeing growth in the early part of this decade on the back of strong and sugar-free products, sales of mints have performed poorly in the UK. Over the last five years alone, the mint sector has declined by as much as 8% – falling from £204 million (A$416m) in 2004 to just £187 (A$382m) million in 2009. What is more, things are looking pretty sticky for the future of the humble mint, as sales are set to tumble a further 11% in the next five years.

Today, six in ten (60%) eat mints, the number of mint eaters declining from two-thirds (66%) in 2004. Just over a third (35%) of eat mints 2-6 times a week, while around one in two (52%) enjoy mints just 2-3 times a month or less.

“Once a firm favourite among Brits, the mint sector is struggling. An older and declining consumer base, together with relatively little product development has hampered growth,” Michelle Strutton, Senior Consumer Analyst at Mintel, explained.

Over the last 2 years, soft and chewy (6% decline) and mild (17% decline) mints have both taken a real battering. And things have really turned sour for Granny’s favourite – the classic boiled mint, where sales fell by a hefty 35% over the same period.

“Traditional segments such as boiled and mild mints have largely been overtaken by innovations elsewhere and changes in tastes that are seeing many younger adults migrate to products such as chewing gum,” Ms Strutton noted.

But there is one ray of hope, with strong mints a shining light in the ailing sector. In fact, market growth of 16% in the past 2 years alone has seen strong mints bring a breath of fresh air to the mint market. More than just a sweet, the extra strong variety are being used for their oral hygiene properties. Today, some 71% of Brits eat mints (or gum) to freshen their breath, while 46% use them to get rid of a strange taste and 30% to clean teeth in the absence of a toothbrush.

“Like chewing gum, strong mints are benefiting from consumers increasingly looking for a burst of freshness, underlining the importance of oral properties,” Ms Stratton concludes.