Shea should shape up!
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CTA. 2002. Shea should shape up!. Spore 101. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47693
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore101.pdf
When the European Union decided in 2000 to allow chocolate to contain up to 5% vegetal fats other than cocoa butter, shea butter was proclaimed as a promising substitute. Two years later, this has not happened. Palm oil, though of lesser quality, is...
When the European Union decided in 2000 to allow chocolate to contain up to 5% vegetal fats other than cocoa butter, shea butter was proclaimed as a promising substitute. Two years later, this has not happened. Palm oil, though of lesser quality, is taking over shea s promised place as a cocoa butter equivalent (CBE). What went wrong with shea rightly called women s white gold ? Shea butter is extracted from the fruits of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa, also known as Butryospermum paradoxum) which grows in the southern Sahelian zone, from Senegal in the west to Uganda and Sudan in eastern Africa. On average, one tree produces 15 to 20 kg of fruits, yielding 1.5 kg of butter. Processed nuts fetch in general one and a half times more 200/t) than the raw ones. Harvesting from the wild and processing the butter is done mainly by women. The butter is processed into cooking oil and consumed locally or exported as the basis for cosmetics or fat in foodstuffs. The downside is that the shea tree is hard to domesticate, starts bearing fruit only after 15 to 20 years and has a fluctuating yield. The combination of unreliable and small supply with low purchasing prices on intermediate trade markets has meant that shea has not become a strong CBE. Of the estimated total production of 1.7 million t, only 65,000 t is exported as a CBE and 3,000 t for cosmetics. There is room for improvement if producers can organise themselves to guarantee a stable supply and establish direct links with such markets as the cocoa and cosmetics industries. In Burkina Faso, the UN fund for women (UNIFEM) has mediated a deal between producers and L Occitane, a French firm, which now buys directly from the Union des Groupements Kiswendsida (UGK). In 2001, L Occitane bought 60 t of butter directly from UGK, an umbrella organisation for 100 shea-producing women s groups. [caption to illustration] Shea won the hearts of grassroots programmes, but it didn t win the market