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The $167 Million Industry Fueled by Melted Bugs on Candy and Lemons | Big Business Insights from Business Insider

The sweet shine on your favorite candies, the glossy finish on your citrus fruit, the smooth polish on your wooden furniture – all of these are thanks to a tiny insect and its amber excretions. Shellac, a natural resin produced by lac insects, has been used for thousands of years in India for various purposes, from jewelry making to wood finishing.

In modern times, shellac is still a valuable commodity, with India being the world’s largest producer of this versatile substance. However, the industry faces challenges due to fluctuating harvests and prices, putting the livelihoods of many farmers at risk.

To understand how shellac ends up on your candy and lemons, we take a journey to India, where farmers like Tolin and factory owners like Manoj Sodi work tirelessly to harvest and process lac. From climbing trees to scraping off the resin, the process of creating shellac is labor-intensive and requires skill and patience.

Once processed, shellac is used in a variety of products, from candies to pharmaceuticals, showcasing its versatility and importance in various industries. However, with the impact of climate change affecting lac production, efforts are being made to ensure the sustainability of this ancient industry.

Through education and innovation, Indian lac producers are adapting to the challenges they face, striving to preserve their traditions and livelihoods for future generations. The story of shellac is not just about a sticky substance; it’s a tale of resilience, adaptation, and the enduring legacy of a tiny insect’s valuable excretions.



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