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Shea butter has a wide variety of cosmetic and food applications.


Shea comes from a nut and is a wild harvest crop. Most of our shea comes from the West African nations of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

Collection and processing

Shea is collected and dried by women in small savanna villages. Only the excess harvest is sold; the sale and export of shea butter doesn’t compete with the local food supply. The shea is transported to crushers in cities nearer to the coast, where it is then transported for production.


Locals use shea as both a food and a topical cream. In manufacturing applications, it is most commonly used in cosmetics and is typically listed as karité. Shea is also used for some food manufacturing, primarily for the confectionery industry. Its most common use is as an ingredient in cocoa butter alternatives.

Sustainability certification

Because shea nuts are a wild harvest crop rather than a farm- or plantation-grown crop, no sustainability certification standard yet exists. An assessment by the Rainforest Alliance found no sustainability risks in our West African shea supply chain.

Bunge Loders Croklaan is an active member of the Global Shea Alliance, promoting a sustainable industry.