“In the past, thousands of families in our region could live off the resin extraction. Today, I am one of the last who still masters this traditional handcraft.”

Bernhard Kaiser, professional resin harvester in Lower Austria


The traditional handcraft of resin extraction

In the past, resin extraction (pitching) was one of the most important industries in the region. In the 18th century, Maria Theresa had areas to the south of Vienna reforested with black pines in order to halt desertification. Around 7000 families in Lower Austria were able to live off these trees and innumerable products were made from the resin it provided. However, these products were gradually replaced by cheaper plastic alternatives. In 2011, pitching in Lower Austria was listed in UNESCO’s national list of intangible cultural heritage.

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A primal urge of humanity

The tooth imprints of a native have been found on a 9000 years old piece of birch pitch in Scandinavia. Likewise, the Egyptians chewed incense, the Greeks mastic (resin of the pistachio tree), and the Maya chicle (the sap of the sapotilla tree growing in the rainforest). In 1848, John Curtis in the USA took up this phenomenon as a commercial idea and sold the first chewing gum (made of spruce resin and beeswax). As chicle chewing gums became more successful, they soon flooded the market. However, these natural chewing gums were gradually replaced by synthetic chewing gums based on plastics.

Chewing gums today:

Conventional chewing gums are synthetic

On chewing gum packs today, only “gum base” is declared, but there is no explanation of what it consists of. On closer inspection, one comes across the information that petrochemical substances are the starting point for most gum bases. These include unpronounceable names of substances like polyvinyl acetate and polyisobutylene. These plastics are not biodegradable and thus pollute the environment and the streets in our towns and cities.

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The idea:

How Alpengummi came about

Claudia and Sandra had the idea of Alpengummi during a joint seminar at university. At the beginning it was “only” about an innovation in the forestry sector, but it quickly became a real business idea. Both learned many new things, including the ingredients of which conventional chewing gum is made - neither of them knew, for example, that “gum base” basically means “plastics”. The two of them went straight to researching the resource tree resin, where they came across the old traditional Austrian handcraft of resin extraction - the “Pecherei”.

“We find it a pity that the “Pecherei”, this proud and old handcraft of resin extraction, has fallen into oblivion. At the same time, natural chewing gums have been replaced by synthetic ones made from petroleum. We knew we had to find a solution.”

Sandra & Claudia, Co-Founder of Alpengummi

Alpengummi on TV:

Show: "2 Minuten 2 Millionen"

The founders of Alpengummi faced the investors of the Puls 4 startup show "2 minutes 2 million". Do you wonder whether they accepted an offer?

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