Gums play a crucial role in the confectionery industry, serving as multifunctional ingredients that contribute to texture, stability, and mouthfeel of various sweet treats. These hydrocolloids are derived from natural sources, providing a versatile solution to achieve desirable characteristics in confections.

Gums are complex polysaccharides composed of repeating sugar units. Their unique molecular structures enable them to interact with water, forming viscous solutions or gels. This water-holding capacity is particularly valuable in confectionery applications, influencing the texture and shelf life of the final product. Some important gums used in confectionery industry are:

  • Agar: consists mainly of agarose and agaropectin. Unique gelling ability, forming stable gels even at relatively low concentrations.
  • Carrageenan: is a linear sulfated polysaccharide. It exists in various forms, including kappa, iota, and lambda, each with unique gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties.
  • Xanthan Gum: Imparts viscosity and stabilizes suspensions, preventing ingredient separation.
  • Arabic Gum: Used as a thickening agent and emulsifier, providing a smooth texture.
  • Guar Gum: Acts as a thickening agent, improving the viscosity and stability of confections.
  • Alginates: Used for gelling and stabilizing properties, especially in gummy candies.
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Source and Processing

  • Agar: a hydrocolloid derived from red seaweed (Gracilaria and Gelidium species).
  • Carrageenan: extracted from red seaweed (Chondrus crispus, Eucheuma cottonii, and others).
  • Xanthan Gum: Derived from Xanthomonas campestris bacteria fermentation.
  • Arabic Gum: Extracted from Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees.
  • Guar Gum: Obtained from guar beans. 
  • Alginates: Derived from brown seaweed. 

Main function in Confections

  • Texture Enhancement: Gums contribute to the desired chewiness, creaminess, or crispiness in confections.
  • Stabilization: They prevent phase separation in emulsified products like chocolate or nougat.
  • Moisture Control: Gums help control water activity, extending the shelf life of confections.

Molecular structure

Gums are complex polysaccharides composed of repeating sugar units. Their unique molecular structures enable them to interact with water, forming viscous solutions or gels.


  • Water-Holding Capacity: Gums have a high affinity for water, allowing them to form viscous solutions or gels. This property is crucial for moisture retention in food products, contributing to texture, shelf life, and overall quality.
  • Thickening: Gums can significantly increase the viscosity of a solution, providing thickness to food products. This property is essential in creating desirable textures in items such as sauces, dressings, and confections.
  • Gelling: Some gums have the ability to form gels under specific conditions, contributing to the structure and texture of products like jams, jellies, and gummy candies.
  • Stabilization: Gums act as stabilizers by preventing the separation of ingredients in emulsions. This is particularly important in products like salad dressings, ice creams, and chocolate, where stability is crucial for quality.
  • Film-Forming: Certain gums can create a thin, flexible film on the surface of food products, enhancing their appearance and providing a barrier against moisture loss or external contaminants.
  • Emulsification: Gums can facilitate the formation and stabilization of emulsions, helping to blend ingredients that would normally separate, such as oil and water. This property is essential in salad dressings, sauces, and spreads.
  • Synergistic Effects: Gums often exhibit synergistic effects when combined with other hydrocolloids or ingredients. This allows formulators to achieve specific textures and functionalities in food products more effectively.
  • Freeze-Thaw Stability: Gums contribute to the stability of frozen products by preventing ice crystal formation and maintaining a consistent texture upon thawing. This is crucial in frozen desserts and other frozen confections.
  • pH Tolerance: Gums generally have good pH stability, allowing them to function effectively in a wide range of acidic or alkaline conditions. This makes them versatile in various food applications.
  • Suspending and Thickening: Gums can suspend particles in a liquid, preventing settling. This property is valuable in products like fruit juices with pulp or salad dressings with herbs and spices.


In the United States, the use of gums in confectionery is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Manufacturers must adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure the safety and quality of products. Specific regulations for gums may include allowable concentrations, labeling requirements, and adherence to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 and PART 172—FOOD ADDITIVES PERMITTED FOR DIRECT ADDITION TO FOOD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

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