Shea butter comes from a nut and is a wild harvest crop that grows in the West African Savannah park lands. More fondly known as the ‘tree of life’, the shea tree has profound impact on many lives, not only in its use but also in how it is produced and sourced. Shea butter is well known for its array of nourishing properties and is therefore used widely as an ingredient in food and personal care products worldwide.
However, shea does so much more than nourish the consumers that use it. Shea helps the communities of its place of origin thrive. These communities rely on the shea industry for their livelihoods. Cooperative groups primarily comprised of and led by women do most of the shea nut collection and represent an integral part of the shea supply chain. This in turn strengthens the position of these women, empowering them to transform their own lives, the lives of their children, families and their entire communities.
For over 50 years, Bunge Loders Croklaan has played a leading role in the sourcing and processing of shea as an important raw material. We believe that the key to building a better tomorrow for shea communities is by being deeply invested in their growth and prosperity. This belief is what brought our Shea Sustainability Initiatives to life in 2017, and in 2020 we launched our Where Life Grows campaign to celebrate our efforts in building a resilient and sustainable shea supply chain. These projects focus on empowering shea collecting women and future generation and conserving and protecting the shea landscape.
In doing so, we are committed to positively impact the livelihoods and communities of shea collection women and in turn, create value to the countries and communities where shea originates from - ultimately transforming lives and securing livelihoods for the generations to come.
The Shea Dashboard is an online platform that provides information about the traceability of our shea and our progress in developing a sustainable shea supply chain.
The shea nuts we source are 100% traceable to country level. It is our goal to extend our scope further to 100% traceable shea nuts at district level.
Our shea sustainability initiatives underpin our vision to build 21st century value chains that are transparent, verified sustainable and create positive impact on the ground in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals across the areas of health and education, socio-economic development and environmental management.
We have long been committed to strengthening shea infrastructure and supply chains, supporting local crushers and shea collectors with improved working conditions and economic opportunities, thereby giving West–Africans a sustainable shea industry they can be proud of. We have invested in a local shea fractionation plant in Tema, Ghana, which was commissioned in 2019.
2020 Quarter 1, updated on July 15
* Numbers from January - March 2020
** Market driven
*** Numbers for season 2019/2020
We work closely with our network of suppliers in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. We partner with them on various sustainability projects focusing on women's empowerment: education and health, environmental management and socio-economic development
As part of our Shea Sustainability Program, we work with various partners to develop fair and long-lasting relationships with the people and communities in our shea supply chain, focusing on women's empowerment: education and health, environmental management and socioeconomic development. Bunge Loders Croklaan is a founding member of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), a non-profit industry association with 500 members from 35 countries. We are actively involved in the Executive Board and the Sustainability Working Group (SWG) of the GSA.
Because shea nuts are a wild harvest crop rather than a farm or plantation-grown crop, there is no globally recognized sustainability certification for shea. In line with our overall commitment towards responsible sourcing, we have taken several steps to certify our shea supply chain against a Globally recognized sustainability standard.
Rainforest Alliance sustainability assessments
In 2011, we asked the Rainforest Alliance (RFA) to audit our shea supply chain in West Africa based on the SAN standards, evaluating environmental, social and economic aspects. The RFA report concluded that there were no sustainability hotspots identified in our supply chain but included recommendations for areas that would benefit from future attention. These recommendations were implemented in our Shea Sustainability program. In 2014 RFA conducted a follow up audit, which acknowledged that the recommendations from 2011 were actively implemented and again, no sustainability hotspots were identified.
ISCC Plus certification
In collaboration with the International Sustainability Carbon Certification system (ISCC) we developed a ISCC wild-crop certification for shea. In 2015, our shea supply chain was the first in the industry to be successfully audited according to the ISCC. Certification body SGS conducted an on-site audit in West Africa and concluded that all sustainable and traceable criteria had been fulfilled. Official sustainability certification is the end result of all our efforts to introduce sustainable shea practices.