Confectioner Leaf is extending its booming Chewits brand into bubblegum.

Rolling out at the end of the month, Chewie Gum has a hard shell similar to a gobstopper and is aimed at eight to 11-year-olds. It will come in shelf-ready packaging containing 12 flip-top packs (rsp: 39p), which are designed to be used on-the-go and shared.

The company is hoping to tap into the 4.5% growth in the overall gum market [Nielsen 52 w/e 13 October 2012]. It said there was currently no brand with significant share in the ‘hard gum’ category, which was the smallest part of the market but up about 20% by value year-on-year.

“The hard bubblegum sector is in growth despite a lack of investment, and there is a real opportunity to drive incremental sales,” said Leaf commercial director Stuart Lane. “The sector will benefit from having a quality brand coming in.”

Earlier this month, Leaf announced it was looking to expand Chewits, which has grown 21.6% year-on-year to £8.4m on volume sales up 14.6% [Nielsen], into new categories including ice cream, cakes and cookies through licensing deals.

The Chewits gum launch follows a revamp of Hubba Bubba soft gum by Wrigley last year.