Bunge opens first shea butter processing plant in Ghana strengthening its processing capabilities

GHANA – Global agribusiness company, Bunge Limited through its specialty oils and fats business, Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC) has inaugurated a state-of-the-art shea butter processing facility in Tema, Ghana.

According to Bunge, 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 i.e. shea olein and shea stearin.

The Shea stearin undergoes further processing in the company’s facilities in The Netherlands, Malaysia, US and Canada to produce ingredients that can be used in many food and non-food applications, such as the Cocoa Butter Equivalents (CBEs) are used in chocolate confectionery.

Shea, recognized fondly by the locals as the tree of life, has become a vital manufacturing ingredient, driving up demand for shea butter with a CAGR of 6.27% by value and 7.9% by volume until 2024.

The new facility has been operational since 2019 and is deemed to be the first shea processing plant in Ghana and the largest of its kind in the continent. Currently, it provides employment to 73 people from mostly the local community.

The new investment will strengthen BLC’s global infrastructure for processing and supplying high-quality shea products to its customers around the world.

Shea, recognized fondly by the locals as the tree of life, has become a vital manufacturing ingredient, driving up demand for shea butter with a CAGR of 6.27% by value and 7.9% by volume until 2024, indicated Bunge.

Building sustainable shea supply chain in Africa

The investment will also bolster the entire ecosystem of regional crushers and local shea collectors in the West African region through Bunge’s recently launched Where Life Grows campaign.

The campaign celebrates the company’s efforts to build a resilient and sustainable shea supply chain in Africa under its shea sustainability program.

“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,” said Aaron Buettner, President BLC.

The shea sustainability 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.

“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, Sr Director Sustainability for Tropical Oils, Bunge Loders Croklaan.

“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,” he added.

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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.

“We believe that the key to building a better tomorrow for shea communities is by investing in sustainable trade and income diversification.”

Ben Vreeburg – Sr Director Sustainability for Tropical Oils, Bunge Loders Croklaan

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.

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