Bunge Loders Croklaan opens key Ghana shea butter processing site

Speciality oils and fats business Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC), has officially opened an advanced shea butter processing facility in Tema, Ghana, with applications across the snacks, confectionery and bakery segments.

The facility’s creation coincides with the company’s Where Life Grows campaign devised to celebrates its efforts to build a resilient and sustainable product supply chain within Africa, which represents key growth opportunities.

“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.”

The facility, which was initially developed in 2019, 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. 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 programme. This 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 recognised fondly by the locals as the tree of life, has become a vital ingredient in both food and non-food products, driving up demand for shea butter with a CAGR of 6.27% by value and 7.9% by volume until 2024 16 million women in Africa living in rural communities and their families 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, Senior Director Sustainability for 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.

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