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    Wrigley To Raise Prices, Reduce SKUs

    Gum maker to introduce new product aimed at teens.

    Wrigley Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. will raise the price of its products in the United States by an average 10 percent, reduce SKUs by up to 15 percent and introduce a new sugar-free stick gum that appeals to consumers' five senses.

    Not every brand will have a 10 percent hike, but that will be the average, the company's management team said at Wrigley's 105th annual meeting of stockholders last week. The price changes are expected in the second and third quarters of 2007.

    The new gum, 5, combines mouth-freshening, long-lasting flavors with sensations that you can "feel as you chew," the company said. It delivers mild tingling, cooling or warming sensations, which tested particularly well among young adults and teens.

    The company also reported strong sales for the year. Wrigley's volumes in 2006 were up 15 percent, reflecting an impressive 8-percent organic growth, with contributions across all regions. Net sales reached a record high $4.7 billion, a 13-percent increase over 2005.

    That growth was fueled in part by continued development of the top-selling Orbit brand in the United States, the successful launch of bottle packaging and the global rollout of Eclipse mints, the company reported. At the same time, Wrigley's acquisition program added substantially to the $700-million dollar non-gum confectionery business built up by Wrigley over the past four years.

    Zeroing in the United States, Executive Chairman Bill Wrigley Jr. highlighted recent successes of some of the company's acquired brands. New LifeSavers innovations -- including Fruit Tarts, Gummies Fruit Splosions and two new mint flavors -- have reinvigorated the brand, helping to drive sales up almost 11 percent in the past year and more than 22 percent in the last 12 weeks.

    Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mints have received solid consumer acceptance, Wrigley said, becoming the category growth leader with a 5.7-percent share after approximately two months in the marketplace.

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