The company is involved in providing employment and training for local women who do not have the same access to education and jobs in Sudan and has several CSR projects next year, training farmers to harvest acacia gum more sustainably, with access to natural resources.
Drinks, sauces, pastries
It has also started to test recipes containing acacia gum such as drinks, sauces, and pastries, at its laboratory in Normandy, France.
According to Alland, 25, studies show acacia gum is one of the most natural additives available to consumers, yet few people have heard of it.
“Acacia gum is a versatile product which is used in a variety of products, including food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals,” he said.
“At Alland & Robert, we are convinced acacia gum has more undiscovered properties, particularly in terms of nutrition and health foods. Since 2012, the company has invested €400,000 in equipment to compare different natural gums which are made of complex polysaccharide polymers."
Initially a family business, created in Paris by Francisque Alland and his partner, Alfred Robert in 1884, Alland & Robert imported gum arabic from Africa to import to European merchants and now exports to 69 countries.
“Over the years the company grew from strength to strength, with each generation of the family making a valuable contribution,” added Alland.
“For example, my father, Frédéric Alland, became CEO of the company in 1984. It was under his influence that Alland & Robert became known on an international level.
“It was thanks to these visionary leaders the business has been shaped into what it is today which now exports all over the world.
“As a child I had the chance to travel to Africa many times, especially Senegal, and discovered African culture, and most importantly, its agriculture. Here I learned about Acacia trees and how they have been cultivated in Africa for thousands of years.
Sahel & Sub-Saharan Africa
“Walking around the bush was a great way to learn about the different species of Acacias which not only look different, but also produce different types of gum.”
Alland said acacia gum production is an important economic resource for the underprivileged populations of the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Sudan and around 10 million people live directly or indirectly thanks to its production.
Alland & Robert works with African populations through a range of local suppliers to improve their working and living conditions, giving them the chance to participate in training courses, enabling access to drinking water, and providing employment and training.
It works with researchers at IATE (Ingénierie des Agropolymères et Technologies Émergentes) and UMR laboratories to carry out primary research and develop applications in collaboration with the University of Montpellier, which has a research unit especially for agro-polymers and emerging technologies as well as its headquarters in Normandy.
In 2016, Alland & Robert renewed a 5-year partnership with IATE, with the goal to acquire new leads (additives produced with gum acacia, new textures, new applications) and expertise (structure, behaviour and techno-functional properties of gum acacia).