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.
We are committed to positively impact the livelihoods and communities of shea collecting 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.
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 program to empower shea collecting women and future generations, create socio-economic value in their communities, and conserve and regenerate the shea landscape in the region.
Learn more about the Where Life Grows program
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.
The ambition of our Where life grows program is to have a positive impact on the livelihoods of the approximately 400,000 shea collecting women and their families in our shea supply chain. Bunge has calculated, with available industry averages, that a minimum of 400,000 women are contributing to approximately 95% of the total shea volume processed by Bunge annually. Through impact activities in one of the 3 pillars of our program, Bunge will be reaching out to these important shea women in our supply base.
Our initiatives improve the health and wellbeing of the female shea collectors, their families and communities, and through education and training, secure stable income opportunities to enable a sustainable livelihood for generations to come.
We have long been committed to strengthening the shea infrastructure and supply chain, supporting local crushers and shea collectors with improved working conditions and economic opportunities, thereby giving West–Africans a sustainable shea industry. We have invested in a local shea fractionation plant in Tema, Ghana, which was commissioned in 2019.
As part of our commitment to minimize environmental impact along our supply chain, we work with partners to conserve and regenerate the Savanna landscape and ecosystem as well as reduce CO2 emissions in the 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.
2022 Quarter 4, updated on April 20th, 2023
* Numbers from October - December 2022
** Market driven
*** Numbers for season 2022/2023
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 empowering women and future generations, creating socio-economic value in their communities, and conserving and protecting the shea landscape in the region.
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 empowering women and future generations, creating socio-economic value at origin, and conserving and protecting the shea landscape. 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.
You can find our certificates on our certifications page.