WORMERVEER, NETHERLANDS – September 8, 2020 – Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC), the specialty oils and fats business of Bunge Limited (NYSE:BG), officially announces the opening of its state-of-the-art shea butter processing facility in Tema, Ghana with the launch of the Where Life Grows campaign that celebrates the company’s efforts to build a resilient and sustainable shea supply chain in Africa.
“Our latest investment in Ghana plays a critical role in strengthening BLC’s global infrastructure for processing and supplying high-quality shea products to our customers around the world, while also bolstering the entire ecosystem of regional crushers and local shea collectors in the West African region,” said Aaron Buettner, President BLC. “The facility allows us to meaningfully support and empower the local shea communities through the transfer of knowledge of value adding processes and by investing in local skills development. We are proud to join forces with local communities to help build and advance the African shea industry together.”
Operational since 2019, the facility is BLC’s first shea processing plant in Africa and the largest of its kind on the continent. “The facility is a fully automated solvent fractionation plant that processes raw shea butter made from locally collected and crushed shea nuts,” said Antoine Turpin, General Manager West Africa at BLC. “Currently, the facility provides employment to 73 people from mostly the local community and its strategic location not only allows for a more efficient production process, it also delivers on BLC’s commitment to building a more sustainable supply chain for shea.”
Where Life Grows
The campaign, a tribute to the long-standing shea legacy in the region, is designed to celebrate BLC’s ongoing commitments and efforts within its shea sustainability program. The program was set up three years ago with the objective to empower shea collecting women, create socio-economic value in their communities, and conserve and regenerate the shea landscape in the region. Shea, also recognized fondly by the locals as the tree of life, has become a vital ingredient in both food and non-food products, exponentially driving up demand for shea butter in the last decade. Many families in West Africa depend on the shea industry to financially support their households and contribute to their communities.
“We believe that the key to building a better tomorrow for shea communities is by investing in sustainable trade and income diversification,” explains Ben Vreeburg, Director Sustainability Tropical Oils at BLC. “This belief is what brings our shea sustainability initiatives to life and the Where Life Grows campaign captures our commitment to create value to the countries and communities where shea is originated.”
As a founding member of the Global Shea Alliance, BLC works to ensure the female shea collectors in its supply chain are empowered through training, and by donating tools that enhance the women’s safety, improve their physical well-being, and make the collection process more efficient. BLC has also contributed to programs designed to increase the value and quality of the collected crop, such as building warehouses and developing partnerships with local crushers, which in turn increases the financial gain for the women’s cooperative groups. Furthermore, as a result of climate change impacting livelihoods of communities in the Savannah ecological area, BLC has committed to conserve and protect the shea landscape through reforestation and shea parkland restoration projects and the investment in energy-efficient stoves for the shea communities.
About the Shea Processing Facility
The processing facility is a fully automated solvent fractionation plant that processes raw shea butter made from locally collected and crushed shea nuts into two major products - shea olein and shea stearin. Shea stearin is being processed further in our facilities in The Netherlands, Malaysia, US and Canada to produce ingredients that can be used in many food and non-food applications. For example, Cocoa Butter Equivalents (CBEs), are used in chocolate confectionery.
BLC’s sustainability commitments
BLC’s shea sustainability initiatives underpin the company’s 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.