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Commodities at a Glance

Special Issue on Gum Arabic

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The series “Commodities at a Glance” aims to collect, present and disseminate accurate and relevant statistical information linked to international primary commodity markets in a clear, concise and reader-friendly format. This issue of “Commodities at a Glance” explores the economic, social and environmental relevance of the gum arabic sector, with a focus on supply, demand, prices and market organization. Gum arabic is the most commercially valuable exudate gum, with wide applications in industries as diverse as food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and printing. The gum is produced primarily in arid wooded savannas in sub-Saharan Africa, and consumed predominantly by manufacturers in developed and emerging economies. Due to its potential to generate foreign exchange reserves, ensure food security, promote sustainable agriculture and forestry, and combat desertification and climate change, gum arabic is a promising commodity for a number of African countries. However, in order to overcome the current uneven distribution of economic gains along the gum arabic value chain, producing countries must increase local processing and ensure higher compensation for resource-poor gum collectors.

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Supply and demand

The world market for gum arabic is composed of two main segments: crude gum arabic and processed gum arabic. The crude gum arabic segment includes unprocessed gum and semi-processed gum that undergoes little value addition (such as cleaned or kibbled gum). Virtually all internationally traded crude gum arabic is produced in sub-Saharan Africa. Although crude gum arabic is also produced in parts of South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, supplies from these regions are outside the scope of the present report due to their small volumes and the fact that they are not traded internationally.27

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