Gum Arabic is a natural gum harvested from the exterior of Acacia trees in the form of dry, hard nodules up to 50mm in diameter, and ranging from almost colourless to brown. Nigeria is the 2nd producer of the crop in the world, after Sudan, with an average production of 20,000 metric tones of all grades of Gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is harvested in the dry season because
during raining season the production of Gum Arabic covers 14 states of the Federation namely Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Nassarawa and Niger with an estimated population of 4 million Nigerians engaged in its cultivation and trade. Gum Arabic is used as thickener, suspender, emulsifier, stabilizer, flavour carrier, binder and encapsulating material.
The major market for the product are: Belgium, China, USA. U.K and Japan.
Nigerian gum arabic is sorted into three grades. The top grade (Grade 1) is gum produced from A. senegal, and although comparable to Sudanese Cleaned gum and it is discounted in price . Grade 2 is gum produced from other species of Acacia (such as A. seyal and A. sieberana). Grade 3 gum is much darker and very mixed in quality; it may consist of gum from species other than Acacia (such as Combretum and Albizia).
At least three grades of acacia gum are available commercially and their quality is distinguished by the color and character in the collected tears.There is considerable variation in gum quality depending on whether it is obtained by natural flow secondary to extreme drought, obtained by tapping or induced by the boring of beetles at sites of branch injury.Gums derived from Combretum are readily available at low prices in East and West Africa and are often offered for sale as “gum arabic.” Because there is no toxicologic data supporting the safety of these gums, they are not recognized as food additives by most countries.Similarly, trees of the genus Albizia are often confused with Acacia and should not be used as acacia substitutes.
SOLUBILITY:– Soluble up to 55% concentration. Gum Arabic is truly soluble in cold water. Other gums are either insoluble in cold water or form colloidal suspensions, solutions not true.
VISCOSITY:– A 20% aqueous solution will give less than 100 cps, i.e. Gum Arabic is not very viscous at such concentrations. High viscosity is obtained only at concentrations of 40% – 50%
FILM-FORMING:– Gum Arabic’s superb film-forming properties make it ideal for some confectionery coatings and lithographic plate solutions.
EMULSIFIER:– Gum Arabic produces highly stable emulsions making it very useful in the prepa
ration of oil-in-water food flavour emulsions, particularly for citrus oils.
COLOR:– Colorless (top quality) to pale straw color (average quality).
TASTE :– Gum Arabic has no off-taste. The taste of flavoring products co-spraydried with Gum Arabic is not affected or dulled by Gum Arabic as the carrier.
FIBER:– Gum Arabic is regarded as 90% “Soluble Fiber,” according to the latest researches.
CALORIC VALUE:- Generally defined as POLYSACCHARIDE DIETARY FIBER WITH REDUCED CALORIC INTAKE.
CHOLESTEROL REDUCER:– Human dietary intake studies have indicated a reduction in blood cholesterol levels when Gum Arabic amounts (25 grams per day) are ingested in solution.
TOXICOLOGICAL STATUS:– “Generally Recognized as Safe”.