Grow­ing de­mand for gum ara­bic of­fers new op­por­tu­ni­ties for African pro­duc­ers

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Development -

In a spe­cial gum ara­bic-themed edi­tion of its Com­modi­ties at a Glance se­ries, the United Na­tions Con­fer­ence on Trade and De­vel­op­ment (UNCTAD) spot­lights the huge po­ten­tial of rev­enue growth in trans­form­ing gum ara­bic into pro­cessed ex­port goods.

Given its many de­sir­able prop­er­ties, safety record and nat­u­ral ori­gin, gum ara­bic is the most com­mer­cially valu­able of what are known as ex­u­date gums – those se­creted by plants. It is used as a sta­bi­lizer, a binder, an emul­si­fier or a vis­cos­ity-in­creas­ing agent, not only in con­fec­tionery, soft drinks, wine, liquor, or di­etary fi­bre, but also for non-food prod­ucts such as phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, cos­met­ics, print­ing, ce­ram­ics, pho­to­sen­si­tive chem­i­cals, tex­tiles, paper, ink, paints and ad­he­sives.

The three largest ex­porters of crude gum ara­bic are Su­dan, which ac­counts for 66% of the to­tal, Chad with 13%, and Nige­ria with 8.5%, in 2014–2016.

Since the 2000s, how­ever, Nige­ria, Sene­gal and Su­dan have pro­duced high­grade gum ara­bic at lo­cal pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Crude gum ara­bic ex­port rev­enues in­creased from an an­nual av­er­age of $95.4 mil­lion in 1992–1994 to an an­nual av­er­age of $150.3 mil­lion in 2014–2016. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, rev­enues from ex­ports of pro­cessed gum ara­bic in­creased from $74.4 mil­lion to $192 mil­lion, 90% of which ac­crued to ex­port­ing countries in Europe.

Whereas the an­nual av­er­age ex­port value of pro­cessed gum ara­bic in­creased by 158% in the last 25 years, the an­nual av­er­age ex­port value of crude gum ara­bic in­creased by only 58%.

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