Sudan Conflict Affects Gum Arabic Supply

Monday, June 5th, 2023 | 5079 Views

The Sudan conflict has led to a disruption of gum arabic, a crucial ingredient that’s used worldwide for food products like soft drinks and candy.


Sudan produces between 70-80% of the world’s gum arabic supply. So the armed conflict in the African state has put food manufacturers in a frenzy to stock up this versatile ingredient.


Gum arabic is a natural water-soluble hydrocolloid. It can stabilise emulsions and enhance textures. By today’s standards, it is considered a functional ingredient due to its high fibre content, low caloric value, and high digestive tolerance.


ScienceDirect explains that gum arabic possesses a unique biochemical structure and properties. It can be a stabiliser, emulsifier, bulking agent, thickener, carrier, glazing and firming agent, humectant and antioxidant. Gum arabic is also renewable, biocompatible and biodegradable. There is a global preference for using natural additives instead of synthetic ones for human consumption. It is therefore not surprising that this sustainable and natural ingredient is facing an increase in demand.


Gum arabic helps keep soft drinks homogeneous by preventing sugar from precipitating at the bottom. Brands that depend on this ingredient have reportedly been stocking up even before the Sudan conflict began, as they were wary of the African nation’s volatile political situation.


However, a British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) spokesperson said the sector was not yet worried about supply levels.


“Gum arabic is used in a wide range of manufacturing processes, including for shoe polish, newspaper print and food and drink. The product is sourced from a range of countries and there is no sign at present that the alarming situation in Sudan will affect the manufacture of certain soft drinks.”


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