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  • Context (DTE): The Sudan conflict has brought focus to a lesser-known product, Gum Arabic.

About Gum Arabic

  • It comes from specific acacia trees and is mainly used in soft drinks.
  • Sudan sells about 70% of the world’s gum arabic.
  • It mainly comes from the Sahel area in Africa, where the climate is ideal for acacia plants.
  • It has unique properties, like water solubility.
  • Threat: Political instability in Sudan, especially in regions like Darfur and Kordofan.

What are its uses?

  • Its use dates back to ancient Egypt (2000 BC), where it was used in food, paints, and mummification.
  • It is used as an emulsifier and stabiliser in the food and beverage industry. It is mostly used to enhance texture and prevent crystallisation in processed foods, soft drinks, and candies.
  • It’s also used in textiles, personal care, photography and painting.


  • It is an additive that helps two liquids mix. For example, water and oil separate in a glass, but adding an emulsifier helps the liquids mix together.
  • They are traditionally prepared from plant and animal sources, but synthetic emulsifiers exist.
  • They are added to processed foods and baked goods to prevent the separation of oil and water.

Sahel Region

SAHEL Region Map - PMF IAS

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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