Supply Of Gum Arabic, A Vital Component Of Soft Drinks, Under Threat By Violence In Sudan

Due to the turmoil that has erupted in Sudan, manufacturers of consumer goods from around the world are scrambling to replenish supplies of gum arabic, one of the nation’s most in-demand goods and an essential component of everything from fizzy beverages to candies and cosmetics.

The acacia trees in the Sahel area, which spans through Africa’s third-largest nation and is ripped apart by war between the army and a paramilitary force, provide around 70% of the world’s supply of gum arabic, for which there are few replacements.

Companies relying on the commodity, like Coca-Cola and Pepsico, are wary of Sudan’s ongoing insecurity and have long stockpiled supplies, with some holding between three and six months’ worth to prevent being caught short, according to exporters and industry sources.

But in the past, conflicts have frequently been concentrated in remote areas, like Darfur. This time, fighting that started on April 15 has paralysed the economy and cut off essential links while bringing Khartoum’s capital to a standstill.

“Depending on how long the conflict continues there may well be ramifications for finished goods on the shelf – branded goods made by household names,” said Richard Finnegan, a procurement manager at Kerry Group, a supplier of gum arabic to most major food and beverage firms.

According to Finnegan, current inventories will run out in five to six months. Martijn Bergkamp, a partner with Dutch producer FOGA Gum, estimated that it will take between three and six months.

According to a spokeswoman who responded to a request for comment via email, Cloetta AB, a Swedish confectioner that produces gum arabic-based Lakerol lozenges, has “ample” supply on hand.

According to figures published by Kerry Group, 120,000 tonnes of gum arabic are produced worldwide each year, with a market value of $1.1 billion. The majority can be found in Ethiopia, Chad, Somalia, and Eritrea, which are all part of the “gum belt” that runs 500 miles from East to West across Africa and is where arable land meets the desert.

Contacted by Reuters, twelve exporters, suppliers, and distributors said that the gum market, which helps bind together food and drink ingredients, has completely stopped.

According to Mohamad Alnoor, the owner of Gum Arabic USA, which sells the product to customers as a health supplement, it is currently “impossible” to acquire extra gum arabic from rural areas of Sudan due to the unrest and roadblocks.

Communication with contacts on the ground has been challenging, according to Kerry Group and other suppliers, including Sweden’s Gum Sudan, and Port Sudan, from which cargo is shipped, has been giving evacuations of civilians top priority.

“Our suppliers are struggling to secure necessities because of the conflict,” Jinesh Doshi, managing director of Vijay Bros, an importer based in Mumbai, said. “Both buyers and sellers are clueless on when things will normalise.”

Owner of the gum arabic exporting company AGP Innovations Co Ltd, Alwaleed Ali, claimed that his clients are looking for different nations to buy gum arabic from.

He claimed he sells the gum to two large ingredient suppliers to producers of goods including pet food, fizzy beverages, and nutrition bars: Nexira SAS, based in Rouen, France, and Ingredion Inc., based in Westchester, Illinois.

In a statement provided by email, an Ingredion representative stated, “We have proactive measures in place across our business to ensure the continuity of supply for our customers.”

Concerning supply chain and commodity issues, PepsiCo declined to comment, and Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment.

“For companies like Pepsi and Coke, they can’t exist without having gum arabic in their formulations,” Dani Haddad, marketing and development director of Agrigum, a global top-ten supplier, said.

According to sources in the industry, food and beverage manufacturers utilise a spray-dried gum that resembles powder in their manufacturing process. There may be alternatives for manufacturers of cosmetics and printing materials, but gum arabic, which keeps chemicals in fizzy drinks from separating, cannot be replaced.

Gum arabic has been spared from U.S. sanctions against Sudan since the 1990s, a sign of its significance to the consumer products sector and due to concerns that it would lead to the emergence of a black market.

Nomads in Sudan harvest the pebbly, amber-colored gum from acacia trees, which is then processed and distributed all over the nation. According to Gum Sudan, the more expensive kind can cost up to $3,000 per tonne and provides a living for thousands of people.

The desirable component is only found in acacia trees in Sudan, South Sudan, and Chad, according to Alnoor, however there is inferior-quality, less expensive gum from outside of Sudan.

Despite having purchase orders and plans to ship 60 to 70 tonnes of gum arabic, Fawaz Abbaro, general manager of Savannah Life Company in Khartoum, expressed scepticism that he would be able to do so because of the fighting.

“It’s not stable even to get food or drink. It’s not going to be stable for business,” Abbaro said. “All trading will be jammed for the time being.”

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Geopolitics, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Uncategorized

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