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Taking gum to the 'Xtreme'

A blister pack with foil lidding keeps this cavity-fighting gum fresh, while graphics promote the gum's significant health benefits.
Expanding on its success in health food stores Ford Xtreme xylitol gum is branching out to drug and grocery stores as well as mass merchandisers. To deliver this cavity-fighting gum Buffalo NY-based Ford Gum & Machine Co. selected a blister pack formed from polyvinyl chloride supplied by Klockner Pentaplast of America (Gordonsville VA).

Launched in early 1998 Xtreme gum is what Ford calls "functional gum." Because the xylitol is a natural sugar-free sweetener that actually helps prevent tooth decay Ford designed the package to convey the beneficial aspects of the product. But appearance is only half the story; the blister pack also protects the gum.

"Klockner's film provides the desired clarity and moisture barrier properties this kind of product needs. It also processes well on our machinery" says Warren Clark vice president of R&D at Ford.

The Pentafood® 25-mil vinyl base film is thermoformed filled and sealed on an intermittent-motion system supplied by Marchesini Packaging (West Caldwell NJ). Forming is done two-across the web and 12 across in the machine direction. As the formed cavities move under the filling station gum pieces are continuously dropped into the cavities.

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Mounted on the Marchesini tf/f/s system are two photoeyes that check for empty cavities in the blister packs before lidding is applied. In between the two photoeyes an operator fills empty cavities. If the operator doesn't have a chance to fill an empty cavity the second photoeye detects it and the blister is rejected downstream.

Lidding material is a 20-micron foil with a heat-seal coating from algroup wheaton (Shelbyville KY). After lidding is heat-sealed to the formed and gum-filled vinyl the 2x12 configurations are cut down the middle across the machine direction to produce two independent 12-cavity blister packs.

These packs are embossed with a code-date on the bottom then conveyed to a magazine on an automatic sleeving machine from Corazza (Bologna Italy). Blister-pack sleeves used by Ford are 16-pt bleached kraft printed offset in five colors by International Paper (Purchase NY). The sleever forms the sleeves from flat blanks glues them and inserts filled blister packs into them. From there the sleeved blister packs move into an automatic cartoner supplied by Corazza. Cartons of 24 blister packs are then conveyed to a Pester USA (Upper Saddle River NJ) machine that applies and shrinks polyethylene film over the display carton.

The gum which retails for 99¢ was rolled out to grocery and drug stores in early July. Steve Gold senior vice president of sales and marketing at Ford believes the gum will do well in traditional markets. "What we have accomplished to date is to create a market for 'functional gum' at health food stores and we have no reason to believe that mainstream customers will not accept it as well" says Gold. "There's a good future [for sales in traditional outlets]. We plan to double our sales this year and to [have them rise] substantially higher next year."

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