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    7-Eleven, SoBe launch energy-enhanced gum line.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc., operator of 5,800 convenience stores in North America, and South Beach Beverage Co., have teamed up to develop SoBe's latest energy-enhanced product -- SoBe Gum.

    Available first at participating 7-Eleven stores through August, SoBe liquid-infused gum is available in three flavors: Energy, Power and Liz Blizz.

    Based on the tremendous growth of the functional, non-carbonated beverage segment, the companies saw an opportunity to develop a new product that met those consumer needs in another format, which resulted in the new gum. Through team merchandising, 7-Eleven, SoBe and Lotte U.S.A. Inc. developed the new energy gum.

    The team first began working together in 2000. The primary challenge was adding the herb and vitamin-enhancements without deteriorating the gum base or losing the flavor match, the companies said.

    "SoBe has been a top-seller in functional non-carbonated beverages at 7-Eleven. We know our customers are SoBe fans, so it made sense to capitalize on that popularity across categories," said Derek Schmitt, category manager of confectionery, gum and mints for 7-Eleven. "It took more than a year to come up with a formula that would be a hit with consumers and is good enough to carry the SoBe brand name."

    The SoBe Gum is also an example of how retailer and manufacturers can work together to develop a new product idea that benefits both.

    "From start to finish, our focus was to develop a great-tasting product that fit both companies' needs," said Renee Coughlin, SoBe's senior vice president of marketing. "The new gum extends SoBe's reputation as an innovator in the functional food and beverage category, and it's a perfect fit with 7-Eleven's goal to have innovative products in the market available exclusively to its consumers."

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