Chewing gum is now both healthy and sustainable with Organic vitamin gum
The Munich start-up Luc & Dan’s Food Lab makes it easy for you to take your vitamins: by adding them to chewing gum. Not just any chewing gum, but a 100% natural biodegradable product. Your shoe won’t get stuck on it if it’s dropped on the pavement, either; those sticky blobs consist of traditional gum made of plastic, originating from the same substance as car tires: petroleum.
Cofounder Daniel Unrau explains how the company started.
You and your cofounder Lucas Dimter are both German but you met in Sweden. How did that come about?
Both of us were both enrolled in the master’s program in entrepreneurship at the University of Lund, Sweden. During the course of the program, we generated over 80 ideas for products and companies. Business mentors gave us advice and exchanged ideas with other students. A jury of experts decided which ideas were the most suitable.
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In the end, the idea for organic, vitamin-enriched gum met with the best feedback. We decided to base the company in Munich since it is a great place for start-ups like ours. Also, even though we didn’t realize it at the time, this is the perfect location since it’s only three hours from our partner company in Bolzano in Northern Italy.
How did your backgrounds prepare you for founding this company?
I have worked in other jobs but starting my own company with a product that can help others lead a healthier lifestyle is something I am passionate about. My partner, Lucas, is a former professional soccer player and a trained nutritionist, so he is also enthusiastic about creating a product that contributes to people’s well-being. His background was also essential in choosing the right vitamin combination for our gum.
What is your company’s vision?
“Simplify the right choices for everyone.” People often forget to take their vitamins and adding them to gum makes it easy. There are other good reasons for ingesting vitamins from gum: it allows for slow absorption, which is recommended, and since it passes through the mucous membranes of the mouth, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and bypasses the digestive system.
My bachelor’s degree is in Economic Psychology, where I learned that people tend to take the path of least resistance. It’s simply human nature. Our company wants to encourage people to do the right thing by incorporating it into already-existing habits. We’re starting out with vitamins, but in the future we’ll try out other health additives.
Do you have any concrete financial targets?
It’s too soon – we’re just starting out. Ask me again in a year!
So if your gum isn’t made of plastic like the traditional product, what is it made of?
Interesting question! The first chewing gum was made of chicle, the tree sap from the sapodilla tree. It grows in tropical regions in South and Central America – where we get our chicle – and parts of Asia. Since the tree must only be tapped and not felled, chicle is sustainable. We’re now coming full circle – back to gum the way it was made in the first place. Once it’s produced, we then enrich the gum with vitamins.
There are other organic chewing gums on the market, but they often lose their flavor after just a few minutes and fall apart. We experimented for a year to get the flavor right and obtain just the right consistency. This took three or four iterations, but we’re very happy with the result. Right now we have a spearmint flavored gum and more flavors will be added later on as we increase production.
Is the gum market growing? It seems like gum is a traditional product, but some types of gum are quite innovative.
The gum market is indeed growing. And the feedback we got from our target group on our produce – people under the age of 40 – is also excellent.
The biggest producer of gum is Wrigley’s and have been around for well over 100 years. They produce traditional gum. Other, smaller companies produce organic gum, but there are no large companies in the market.
It sounds interesting! Where can I buy some?
You’ll have to wait a few weeks. We have sent initial samples to local stores that sell organic, regionally produced goods in bulk (Nebenan und Unverpackt) but we won’t really get started with production until late January 2022.