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Sudan: Sudan crisis will affect supply from cold drink to candy, know how this conflict will affect you

Pankaj Prasad
Gum arabic
Gum arabic

Gum arabic is a substance used in adhesives, pharmaceuticals, inks, sweets, and other products.

The ongoing conflict in Sudan is also affecting the supply of gum arabic. Gum Arabic is one of the most sought after products of Sudan. Sudan exports it all over the world. It has been affected because of the war. Due to this, there is a possibility of affecting the production of cold drinks, cosmetics to candy in the world.

After all, what is this gum arabic? Apart from Sudan, where else is it produced? What is it used for in different products? How deep is the gum arabic crisis? What is its alternative? Let us know…

What is Gum Arabic?

Gum arabic is a substance used in adhesives, pharmaceuticals, inks, sweets, and other products. In South Sudan it is also called Gum Africa. It is extracted from a special kind of Babool tree. Which are found exclusively in Sudan. Most acacia bark is rich in tannins, which are used in tanning and dyes, inks, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

How is it obtained and what is the cost?

Nomadic peoples in Sudan extract pebbles, red colored gum from acacia trees. It is later refined and packaged across the country. According to the Gum Sudan Company, it is a source of livelihood for thousands of people. The more expensive variety costs around $3,000 per ton.

Somewhere outside Sudan this gum is found but it is cheap gum of poor quality. The preferred material of many companies is found only in acacia trees in Sudan, South Sudan and Chad.

Apart from Sudan, where else is it produced?

About 70 percent of the world's supply of gum arabic comes from Sudan. It is sourced from acacia trees in the Sahel region, supplies of which are being disrupted by fighting between military and paramilitary forces. There are not many options for this either. It is also used in cold drinks. Companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have stockpiled three to six months in anticipation of the crisis.

Are there alternatives?

Gum arabic export business AGP Innovation Co Ltd said their customers are looking for alternative countries to source it. He said he sells the gum to Nexira SAS based in Rouen, France and Westchester, Illinois. These are two major suppliers of ingredients to manufacturers of products such as domestic food, beverage fizzy and nutrition bars.

Industry sources said that in their manufacturing process, companies making food and soft drinks use a spray-dried form of the gum which is powder-like. Cosmetics and printing manufacturers can use the option. However, there is no substitute for gum arabic in Fiji.

This is very important for the consumer goods industry. This is why gum arabic was exempted from US sanctions against Sudan since the 1990s.

How deep is the gum arabic crisis?

The Kerry Group, a supplier of gum arabic to most major food and beverage firms, has expressed concern over its projected shortage. According to Richard Finnegan, the group's procurement manager, a prolonged continuation of the conflict could affect branded goods made from household names. Finnegan estimates that the current stockpile will be exhausted in five to six months.

According to Kerry Group estimates, global production of gum arabic is about 120,000 tons per year, valued at $1.1 billion. It is found in most of the 'Gum Belt' which extends to countries such as Ethiopia, Chad, Somalia and Eritrea.

Why was the supply interrupted?

12 exporters, suppliers and distributors reported that the gum trade has come to a standstill. Mohamed Alnoor of Gum Arabic USA Company said it is currently impossible to obtain additional gum arabic from rural parts of Sudan due to the upheaval and road blockades.

Kerry Group and other suppliers, including Sweden's Gum Sudan Company, said it has been difficult to communicate with their sources on the ground. In addition, Port Sudan from where the product has been shipped is prioritizing the evacuation of people. "Our suppliers are struggling to secure essential items because of the war," said Jinesh Doshi, managing director of Mumbai-based importer Vijay Bros.