Shea nuts are primarily grown in West and Central
Africa in the semi-arid Sahel, referred to by traders as the "Shea
Belt". Vitellaria paradoxa and Vitellaria nilotica are the main
varieties. Vitellaria paradoxa is exported in the largest volume
and grows throughout the West African region. Vitellaria nilotica
is produced primarily in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.
Shea nut products, the solid fat (stearin) and
the liquid (olien), are ideal for use as raw materials in cooking
oil, margarine, cosmetics, soap, detergents and candles, but it
has found its primary market niche as a substitute for cocoa butter
in the chocolate and confectionery industry.
Shea butter is extracted from shea nuts. Shea
butter is used for body, hand and facial products because of its
unsaponifiables content. Shea butter contains ester resins recommended
for damaged skin repair, cleansing and the sun's protection. Phytosterols
content helps cellular stimulation and regeneration. Shea butter
contains latex, which prevents against sun allergies. Clinical studies
have demonstrated that sea butter enhances capillary vessels blood
activity, increasing oxygenation and metabolic residues elimination.
At Sekaf, we piloted our own scheme to process
shea butter at the community level, in a collaborative commercial
project with a village in the northern region of Ghana.
We have also adapted our own traditional boiling
extraction process to produce a consistently high quality butter.
Part of our success lies in our outstanding and strong position
in Ghana's Shea nut export. We have a well developed Shea nut buying
network, which procures high quality nuts. Our experience with our
buying network has meant that the nuts used for our shea butter
extraction have been very low in free fatty acids (FFA).