Scientific Analysis of the Fenugreek Composition and Other Industrial Uses

The fenugreek also referred as the Trigonella Foenum – grecum L, has been marked as one of the most promising plant in terms of nutritional and medicinal value from the ancient times. The plant is an annual herb indigenous to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean regions and countries like the Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and morocco.

The fenugreek gum powder has bioactive compounds such as the galactomanans, diosgenin, stolone and many more. The fenugreek seed, like other galactomanans, is comprised of the mannose backbone linking to the single galactose side chains. There is a high ratio of galactose to mannose makes it easily dissolve in water to create a highly viscous solution at low concentrations. Some important chemical constituents include;

Steroid Saponins
The plant seeds contain steroids, sapogenins and diosgenin being major constituents. These sapogenins are glycone portion of plant steroid. These constituents occur as complex glycosides and not free molecules.

Poly Phenol
Recent research shows that the fenugreek seeds has up to five different types of flavonoids, which the vitexin , tricin, naringenin, quercetin and tricin. The seed has also been found to have strong antioxidants such as the quercentin, which has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, anti-ulcer, and many other medicinal properties.

Alkaloids
The gum contains trigonelline, and alkaloid which is a derivative of the nicotinic acid. This chemical has hypoglycemic and ant pellagra effect important in the management of diabetes and diseases affecting the central nervous system.

Nutraceutical Properties
The fenugreek also when consumed has an effect of refining the blood as a diaphoretic. It is able to pass on sweat and thus help to detoxify the body. As a lactation aid, the fenugreek has been found to be able to stimulate sweat production as it contains hormones which enhance milk production in the lactating mothers. This happens in duration of 24 – 72 hours after ingestion of the herb.

As an anti cancer aid it has been found that the diosgenin acts to reduce the growth of anti cancerous cells in the body.

Nutritional Composition
From a compositional research analysis, the fenugreek seeds have been seen to be high in carbohydrates but low in protein contents. A dried sample of the seed has been seen to contain a moisture content of approximately 10.9% while that of crude fat is about 6.3%. The seeds have been observed to contain vitamin B1, B2, B6B12, folic acid and vitamin c. The total amount of carbohydrates has been seen to be approximately 77.04 %. It has also been found to have an ash content of up to 2.99 %. The presence of stalone in the gum causes it to have flavor, which is important in some of the recipes.

Other Applications

In addition to the medicinal and nutritional applications, the fenugreek forms very stable colloids and for a long period of time. This hydration property makes the fenugreek an equal alternative to hydrocolloids. Since the product is widely grown in India and around the world, it can be used in place of other seed gums.

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Advances in Food Biochemistry Put Cassia Gum in the Front Line

The cassia gum is purified flour from the seed endosperm of cassia tora and the cassia obtusifolia, which are plants of the leguminosae family. 75% of the powder chemically contains high molecular weight polysaccharides with mannopyrannose units linked with galactopyrannose units. These make it exhibit excellent properties of a hydrocolloid.

Application of Cassia gum

The manufacturing process is a series of steps involving the cleaning of the source material, removal of impurities, milling and further refining with isopropanol to have a final purified product.

Characterization of the Cassia Gum
The final refined cassia gum is significantly different from the other galactomanans in that it has fewer galactose molecules next to the long mannose chain. This creates a significant effect on the synergy of the food grade cassia gum with other anionic food gums such as carrageenan or Xanthan gums.

Scientific research has shown that a high number of galactose side chains hinder proper synergistic gelling effects with anionic polymers. To counter this effect, a smaller amount of hydrocolloid blend with cassia gum is required for a similar effect to be achieved in the food product as with carrageenan alone or blends of carrageenan and other hydrocolloids.

Reaction of the Cassia Gum in Foods

In regards to the chemical structure of the gum, it is stable during food processing and storage. The product only degrades into sugars, but this happens rarely. Scientific research on degradation of the cassia gum in food products shows that it is stable without chemical modifications for over 20 months. When the gum is used at the recommended levels in food, it has been seen to have no interaction with nutrients. There is no other seen by products of the degradation process of the gum apart from sugar formation.

Usage Levels of Cassia Gum in Foods

In cheeses, such as curd, whey, cream, processed spread, dip and other miscellaneous cheeses, it is used at a maximum level of 3 mg/kg as an emulsifier, stabilizer, thickening agent and water retention agent in these formulations.

In the frozen dairy desserts and mixes, the gum powder is used at a level of 2.5 mg/kg as an emulsifier and stabilizer to control over run. These products include ice creams, ice milks and sherbets.

In the meat products and meat formulations and dishes, it is used at a level of 3.5 mg/kg as a stabilizer, emulsifier and water retaining agent. These include multi coarse meat meals, sandwich ingredients and commercially processed meat ingredients.

In poultry products it is also used at a level of 3.5mg/kg as a stabilizer and water retaining agent. These include all poultry containing dishes frozen products and sandwiches.

Bottom Line

Continued research on the cassia gum powder uses and applications has led to the conclusion that the gum can be equally used as replacement to other hydrocolloids and in some cases it is more effective. Research has also proven that the gum is effective when combined with other hydrocolloids such as the carrageenan and the xanthan gum. In addition to human food additives, it can also be used in the manufacturing of pet foods.

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Natural vs. Synthetic Hydrocolloids and Industry Preferences

Hydrocolloids are water soluble and dispersible polysaccharides that are also referred to as food gums. The products also produce viscous dispersions called gels. In usage they basically bind/ hold water, improve texture of products, stabilize emulsions and form films as well as product coatings.

Natural Hydrocolloids
They are derived from plants and animals and they include;

Galactomanans
They have a mannose backbone linked to galactose side groups. The ratio of the galactose to mannose varies from 0.3 in carob to 0.6 in guaran to 0.9 in the fenugreek gum powder.

The guar gum powder is mainly produced in India and Pakistan and extracted from the seed endosperm. It hydrates rapidly in water to give a viscous solution that has a neutral PH. It is widely used in many industries due to these properties.

Locust Bean Gum
The plants also grow widely in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions. It is also a galactomanans with the ratio of mannose to galactose being at 4:1. The side chains in this case are never uniformly distributed with some sections of the formula being referred to as hairy while others are bare of the side chains.  It is also widely used in the food processing such as ice creams, cheese products, meat products and chocolate products.

Locust Bean Gum

Gum Arabic
Harvested from trees and mostly occurring in the semiarid areas of Africa. It is also widely used in food industries such as candies, baked goods to reduce moisture absorption, frozen desserts and also flavor fixation.

Non-Plant Natural Hydrocolloids
Other in the same group includes the fenugreek gum and carrageenan gum.

Kappa carrageenan

Alginate; sourced from the brown algae and has applications in the food industry such as salad dressings, meringues and bakery icings. They are considered more expensive than the plant based hydrocolloids.

Synthetic Hydrocolloids
These are basically derived from chemical combinations to give a product with similar structure to the natural polysaccharides.

Semi synthetic hydrocolloids are more preferred compared to the purely synthetic gums. They include the starch derivatives such as the hetastarch, starch acetate and starch phosphates. Cellulose derivatives include; carbxy-methyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), methylcellulose (MC), and microcrystalline cellulose.

Research has shown that the synthetic hydrocolloids are far less inefficient and have certain inherent disadvantages such as;

  • High cost
  • Toxicity to body and other animal life
  • Environmental pollution during the manufacturing process
  • Non renewable sources
  • Some have acute and chronic adverse effects on the skin
  • Poor biocompatibility compared to the natural gums

Advantages of Natural Gums
The natural gums are the most preferred in all the industries due to various reasons.

  • Bio degradable; they are renewable sources which are easily bio degradable.
  • Bio compatible and non-toxic
  • Low cost and easily available in nature, they are also easier to extract.
  • They have more public acceptance due to their numerous health benefits and they are also extracted from edible sources.
  • In pharmaceutical applications, there is less chance of side effects to patients compared to synthetic

With all these advantages, the natural hydrocolloids are gradually replacing synthetic gums in industrial applications.

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Important and Essential Spices that Have Dominated the Indo Western Dishes

In the indo western cuisines, the fenugreek is one of those ingredients that distinguish between cooking and excellent cooking. In many instances, dishes with fenugreek act as a marker of what people will think when they think of that dish.

The aroma of fenugreek alone has made many people sampling the Indo western dishes to arrive to conclusion that this part of the world has some of the best traditional dishes. The fenugreek used as a spice in food adds to a complex sweetness and a bit of subtle bitterness to sauces that have an amazing taste.

fenugreek gum powder and fenugreek seeds

Action of Aromatics in Food
The use of aromatics in food has been practiced from long ago. Some of the basic aroma plants include the onions and garlic. They are herbs, spices and vegetables that are prepared in an oil base to enhance food flavor. The immersion in oil helps in releasing their inherent aroma and creating the foundational taste and smell to the food.

Fenugreek Combined with Aromatics
The fenugreek is a native crop to Asia and the Mediterranean regions and the seeds and leaves are edible.  When the powder is combined with aromatic compounds and spices, the maple syrup flavor is transformed to resemble the dark caramel, to make the cuisine feel complete. In the catering industry, there is no replacement for the product.

Special Culinary Application of the Fenugreek
In specialized catering, this product can be used both as an herb and spice. The plant leaves can be obtained as frozen, fresh or dried. These are then added as leafy greens in the sauces and curries such as with potatoes. The dried leaves are most preferred as they are able to retain most of the flavor.

The fenugreek seeds are the most preferred of these products. They are usually cooked for a longer period of time and therefore able to infuse well with other aromas and flavors. Most experts therefore prefer starting with the seeds and finishing with the leaves to refresh the spice and enhance the intended flavor.

The bitterness of the seeds is reduced by pan roasting then added to pickle brines and homemade curry powders. The fenugreek gum powder has also been seen to work best with strong flavors such as the coriander, cumin and paprika to create a great sauce. It is worth noting that caution is needed because too much of it may make the food overly bitter.

Nutritional Benefits
In addition to the culinary benefits, there are added benefits from the fenugreek gum powder. The powder is among the naturally occurring polysaccharides sought for usage as release modifiers in drug delivery methods due to their safety, non-toxicity and benefits to the body. The gum power has also been noted to have a positive effect of lowering blood glucose levels.

Bottom Line
The fenugreek gum powder is a popular spice and flavor in various recipes. This popularity has spread from the Asian regions to other global markets. The gum also has other nutritional values and industrial applications including therapeutic applications.

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Pasting Properties of Tamarind Kernel Powder In The Presence Of Other Gums

The tamarind Kernel powder is derived from the Tamarind Indicia L plant. The plant has been grown in more than 50 countries of the world, but the major producing areas are in the Asian countries.

The fruit is a legume pod with a soft and acidic pulp containing a number of seeds. Each pod has at least 12 fully formed seeds. In industrial processing, the seed is a byproduct of the tamarind that has been underutilized.

The seed of the tamarind can act as an important source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and a source of valuable carbohydrates. The tamarind Kernel powder is also extracted from the seed. This TKP can be roasted and used for jelly formation and making of bread and biscuits. The deoiled tamarind Kernel is used as a dehydrating agent in the manufacturing of various powder products. It is also used as an emulsifying agent.

Properties of Tamarind Kernel Powder

Deoiled Tamarind Kernel Powder
To get the deoiled tamarind, the flakes of the polished seeds are subjected to a process of extraction that reduces the oil level from approximately 7% to a point of approximately 1.25%. This allows the product to be then milled into a fine powder.

Pasting Properties
The chemical properties of the tamarind Kernel powder can be modified and improved through its interaction with other gum forming substances. This is done after understanding the viscosity profile of the powder and its behavior in a liquid combination with other compounds. The changes occur depending on the molecular structure of these hydrocolloids and the interaction of the ions in solution.

Blending of the TKP
There has been increasing interest in use of the tamarind Kernel powder as an additive in food formulations. Decorticated seeds have in the past been used in the jute and textile industries but this is a small fraction of the potential uses of the product. The product has potentially more applications in pharmaceutical manufacturing, confectionaries and even in pet food making.

Research has shown that the tamarind Kernel powder causes a substantial increase in the thickness or the viscosity, despite usage in lower volumes. It can therefore be industrially adopted for use in flour to improve the paste formation properties at a relatively cost effective process.

When this process is effectively controlled, the utilization of this product will help to impart heat stability and retrogradation   in the food, and hence high quality product is obtained.

Bottom Line
There has been limited usage of the tamarind Kernel seed in industry. Usage has been limited to sizing functions especially in the textile industry. With more research on the properties of the plant, there will be increased usage in food related applications. Research has shown that the tamarind Kernel powder can be cost effectively used to increase viscosity in food processed food products. It has been observed that the powder enhances the quality of flour pastes, as well as enhancing the efficiency at which the pastes are manufactured.

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Action of Essential Hydrocolloids in the Food Industry

Hydrocolloids represent a diverse group of long chained polymers which have the ability to form high viscous dispersions in the presence of water. The large number of hydroxyl groups has been seen to increase their affinity to water and they are thus the name hydrophilic colloids. This property has made them have wide ranging uses in various industries including the food industry.

Hydrocolloids in the Food Industry

Rheology
This is the texture modifying property of these products. This property helps improve the sensory properties of the foods making food products more appealing. This process involves non specific entanglement of disordered polymer chains and is essentially a polymer/solvent interaction. The level of thickening is largely dependent on the type of hydrocolloid used as well as the concentration. In the dilute form hydrocolloid molecules move freely in the solution. When concentration is increased, they start getting into contact with each other and movement becomes restricted. This transition represents the thickening process.

Action as Edible Films and Coatings
The edible film is a thin layer than can be ingested, coated on the food, or used as a barrier between the food and the encasing environment. One of the best examples of edible packaging is the sausages and some types of meat packaging that is never removed during cooking and eating.  In the food industry, hydrocolloids are well used in production of this edible film. The films act as the barrier for moisture ingress, gas, aroma and prevent the migration of lipids. These hydrocolloids, such as the refined guar gum powder will retard moisture entry in the short term and will also be an effective barrier for preventing the oxidation of lipids and other food ingredients.

Fat Replacement
There have been rapid changes in the lifestyles and an increasing awareness of the close connection between our diet and health effects. The emergence of new processing technologies has lead to increase in consumption of readymade foods. Majority of the population is now aware of the dangers of too much fats and oils in the body, commonly referred to as calories rich foods. Hydrocolloids have been seen as excellent fat replacers or “structured water” that give lower calorie foods that have great eating quality. Some of the hydrocolloids used in this process include the xanthan gum which may act as a thickener. Light mayonnaise is combined with guar gum to replace the fats and act as a thickener.

Production of Special Products
Certain specialized products require these special properties of hydrocolloids. In the production of jelly like foods these compounds are highly preferred. They have applications in making of confectionaries to create the jelly like structure. The preferred hydrocolloid is the guar gum and it additionally helps in preventing the crystallization of sugars and fat emulsification to keep them evenly distributed in the food product. The guar gum gels swells in presence of water and some heat. This process, when completed is irreversible hence creating stability in the food. The gel concentration is required to be greater than 1.5% in the water and less than 0.6 % in the food for taste quality. These natural gels are also stable in freeze and thaw conditions.

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Factors Promoting the Marketability of Sesbania Gum Powder

The sesbania gum powder is extracted from the seed and originated from India. It is white in color loose milky powder that easily dissolves in water to form a sticky solution. The sesbania has been found to have stickiness that is up to ten times more than other gums of plant origin.

Recently the sesbania has generated much interest due to their extensive applications in industry. The gum is relatively cheap, biocompatible and also readily available from agricultural production.

Exports Value

The total value of exports for the sesbania gum powder is approximately 4 million US dollars annually with a total quantity of export reaching over 2.8 million kilograms annually.

Industrial Applications

There has been less research on this crop due to its close similarity in structure to the guar gum.

There has also been increasing modifications in the structure of the sesbania gum to enhance its effectiveness and functional properties in an aim to increase its usage in industry.

In the mining industry, there is also need for more research into usage in more functions to enhance its market. Currently, it is used as an important floatation agent. This is a process involves separating minerals from the waste particles, and therefore it helps in the waste separation process.

Product Characteristics

Under different temperature regimes, the gum may behave like carob gum, and at concentrations higher than 1%, it displays properties of commercial guar gum. With this in mind it has greater advantages than the other gums in the same category. Modified forms of the sesbania such as the hydroxyl-alkylated Sesbania gum have greater applications in industry.

Sesbania Gum Powder

Other Applications

Sesbania Splits; Apart from industrial applications, the sesbania can also be marketed as a good green manure for crop production. In these areas of south and south East Asia, it has been marketed effectively as a soil restorative, to increase the productivity of the crop.

Sesbania Seed; this seed has also been seen as a good source of animal nutrients, and can be grown for production of bird feed mixtures. The plant makes a good cover for ducks and game birds as well as quail foods.

There has been increasing unattractiveness in the usage of the other forms of gums such as the guar gum due to high prices as well as times of product scarcity. Companies in the United States and the world have discovered the sesbania to be an economically viable alternative to the guar gum.

Other research has shown sesbania gum powder to be superior in some qualities than the guar and other gums.

Adoption of New Production Technologies

The sesbania plant can grow on highly alkaline soils and can do well in water-logged soils where other crops cannot be readily cultivated. The plant never requires crop displacement for production and will add more nutrients to the soil. Low production costs of the sesbania gum translate to cheaper market prices and greater returns for the users.

Conclusion

Greater research is needed on the uses of the sesbania gums to develop its demand. Increasing prices and declining production of guar gum may eventually enhance the demand for the sesbania gum powder.

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Challenges and Strategies for Development of Guar Gum Market

From the year 2005, there was a rapid shift in the usage patterns of the guar gum. Before then the major demand sectors for the guar was the food grade which consumed over 50% of the domestic production. There was also some demand for the fast hydration guar gum powder used in the paper and the cosmetic manufacturing.

This however changed when guar gum usage was directed to the oil and gas drilling operations. This industry now forms the bulk of the demand for the guar gum. Demand for the product has reached up to 70% of the total production. The rest is taken up by other industries such as textiles and food processing.

Prices

The prices of this product have a very high positive correlation with the shale gas exploration. Negative price movements have had major impacts on the overall well being of the industry.

guar gum powder in India

Current Challenges

  • Price uncertainties; these have caused mixed reactions among users which compel them to develop alternative products and processes to achieve the same goals.
  • Supply challenges; the production of guar plant is much dependent on the monsoon rainfall. When these get delayed, forecasting the production levels becomes very difficult, thus creating instability in the market.
  • Quality product; this is a very important element especially in the food grade guar gum powder. Slight contamination leads to serious consequences including product withdrawal, and export bans especially from Europe and the UK.
  • Usage of proplant; the guar gum is used in industry for increasing the viscosity of the proplant. Market uncertainties have caused the users to consider using slick water that requires less guar usage. This will have serious effect on the future of this product.
  • Earlier calls for reduction in oil and gas exploration have also been a major factor affecting the market of the guar gum.
  • The emergence of other gelling and emulsifying agents such as the synthetic LFC – C4, developed in the UK, will cause a definite shift in the demand curve of the guar.

Strategies for Market Development

To counter the effects of these forces, strategies must continue to be developed that will help maintain the demand of the product.

  • There is an urgent need to diversify the market to other major oil producers and other places where oil and gas exploration is emerging.
  • Greater resources must be put into research and development to discover other uses for the product.
  • There is also need for continued research on better processing technologies that will eliminate challenges associated with poor quality. These include production using high quality seeds as well, proper production practices, good extraction technology as well as packaging , branding and market promotion.
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Hindrances to the Expansion of Cassia Gum Market versus Other Hydrocolloids

Hydrocolloids are substances that form a gel in water. They are comprised of heterogeneous groups of biopolymers, which rapidly form viscous dispersions when introduced in water. These substances play very important roles in various industries.  They are mostly used as thickening and gelling agents.  Natural hydrocolloids used as thickening agents include; starch, Xanthan gum, guar gum, gum Arabic and the locust bean gum. Those used as gelling agents include the carrageenan, cassia gum, alginate, gelatin and agar. They are also used as food stabilizers.

The Cassia Gum

The cassia gum exhibits properties similar to other hydrocolloids and is used as a stabilizer in foods, emulsification, enhancing moisture retention, improvement of texture and in the beverage industry.

Despite of this, it has not been widely to the same extent as the other hydrocolloids. Some of factors affecting its usage include;

  • Growth in dairy foods industry
  • Slower growth in the pet foods market
  • Limited research on the product
  • Limited awareness on the product

Market Forecast

The average growth rate of the Cassis gum is expected to be moderate between the year2016/2017. There is currently increasing awareness on the presence of cassia gum which functions equally well as the other hydrocolloids, and also equally affordable.

Cassia Gum Powder

Regulations

The regulatory bodies in various countries have also approved the usage of cassia gum powder and related formulations for use in industries such as in dairy, pet foods and confectionaries. This is expected to cause a gradual upward trend in the sales and demand of the product.

Quality Standards

The cassia gum is largely produced in China and India where there are favorable weather conditions for production.  A closer look at these areas and it is worthy to note there are no quality standards that guide the production and processing of cassia. Lack of these standards has meant consistently poor quality being produced and exported, thus creating a barrier in market expansion.

Production Barriers

Rain Fed production of the cassia gum in the Indian subcontinent has also been a factor affecting the overall production. Decline in the levels of the monsoon rains have a direct effect on the production volumes and may create a supply shortage.

Industrial Uses

According to reliable market research, cassia gum main markets are the animal food industry being the major consumers, Dairy and confectioneries and meat processing. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical, paper and chemical processing and to an extent in mining. When compared to the guar, the major demand driver is the oil and shale gas exploration sectors which consumes vast amounts compared to the animal food industry. This has widened the gap in market levels of the cassia gum.

Conclusion

Despite the imbalance in usage of cassia in different industries, there is growing awareness of the availability of cassia gum as a viable alternative to other hydrocolloids.  Demand in the cosmetic industry is expected to rise by over 48% by the year 2025, driven by the hair care subsector. The main consumer region is expected to be North America.

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Guar Gum Market Correlation with Crude Oil Prices for 2016/2017 Period

The efforts of the current United States government to encourage or increase the level of oil drilling have been a major boost to the Indian guar gum production and processing. This is the reversal of a downtrend ongoing for two years. From November 2016, industry analysts have seen an 8 % increase in guar prices. The general market sentiment is that guar exports to the USA will rise by 25%. The increase in oil drilling sector in the northern America has also added to the positive expectation.

Guar Prices VS Crude Oil prices

The prices of the guar move in direct proportion to the crude oil prices. The drastic decline in crude oil prices created a direct decline in the prices of guar gum powder.  The drop in global crude prices led to decreased shale exploration and a fall in demand of the guar gum powder.

The prices of intermediate crude from west Texas fell from approximately $ 110 per barrel to $ 50 per barrel also created a major effect on importation of guar gum products.

Ware Housing

The accumulation of supplies in the oil companies’ stores also contributed to the decline in the price levels.  The establishment of warehouses by Indian businesspersons in the United States, and the subsequent build up of stocks also contributed to decrease in demand.

Guar Gum Powder

Oil Rig Count

The number of oilrigs in the United States reached six hundred and fifty two in the third week of March 2017. This is the highest level from September 2015. There has been a direct and positive correlation between the active rig count and the crude prices.  A closer analysis at these trends shows that when the crude prices hit the bottom, the number of operational rigs also dropped to minimum. Oilrigs require the guar gum powder for lubrication of the drilling process, and therefore its demand is in direct proportion to the performance of the rigs.

The usage of guar in the oil mining has also helped crude companies produce more oil with fewer rigs due to the increased mining efficiency and performance of the oil wells. This has caused the demand for guar to prevail despite decreasing numbers of oil wells.

Upward Trend

From reliable industry analysts, there is already a good upward trend in the prices guar gum both in the local and in the export market. These have been attributed to demand from the primary oil production industries, and the decreased domestic supply of the product.

The demand of guar by the global oil industry is estimated at 450 000 tons per year. If this production is not met in the current period, there is likely to be an imbalance in supply causing an increase in the prices.

It is estimated that the in the year 2017, the North American oil and gas companies may increase their spending on exploration by up to 30 %. There has also been increased lending from banks to finance oil production.

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