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How is Shea butter Farmed and Which Countries Are the Top Exporters?

Shea butter is a vegetable fat that's extracted from the dried nuts of the shea tree. Shea butter is non-toxic and edible, and can be used incooking. However it is mostly used for cosmetic purposes. 

When used as cosmetics, it helps to nourish and rejuvenate skin cells, protects the skin against ultra-violet rays, and has anti-inflammatory properties, soothes and treats dry scalp unlike any scalp treatment.  

In some African countries such as Benin, shea butter is used for cooking oil, as a waterproofing wax, for hairdressing, for candle-making, and as an ingredient in medicinal ointments.

In Ghana, people from Hausa and different ethnic groups use shea butter for cooking local dishes.

There are so many good uses of shea butter and it is advised you have some at home at all time – find outwhy.

In case you also need some quality 100% shea butter cream, you can purchase the Hutwise Shea Body creamhere.

How does Shea Go from a Tree Nut to Oil to Skin Care?

The process of making shea butter is a long and tedious one. Firstly, you have to wait for wild shea fruit to become ripe and then you collect them. The hard work comes in when you have to extract the kernel from the fruit. The only way of removing nutshells is to crack them with stones or other hard materials. However, various steps have been taken to ensure thatwomen are making more sustainable shea butter.

Hutwise sources itsshea butter from very sustainable sources that do not exploit the stakeholders.

After which you wash the kernels and dry them under the sun whilst sorting for quality. The kernels are then crushed into small pieces. Once the nuts are crushed, they are roasted on fire to give it a pleasant roasted fragrance.

Roasted fragments are then taken to the grinding machine again, where through a special process, thick paste is obtained.

The paste is usually kept in big basins and churned. Throughout this process, water is added gradually. The thick paste is churned until the butter oil separates from water.

Afterward, butter oil is carefully removed and put into a bowl of boiling water under low fire. When butter oil melts under the high temperature, the oil that floats to the top of the bowl is scooped off.

The liquid is then strained to remove all the unwanted impurities and kept in big basin which are stored in cool and dark places.

It’s stored in cool places to ensure that the oil becomes thick and ready to use and sell. After this, additional processing of the shea butter can be done by filtering to remove possible impurities. After, all that’s left is the packaging and exporting.

Which Countries Grow and Export Shea butter?

Shea trees are native to West Africa, and most shea butter still comes from that region. There is believed to be a shea belt where shea butter grows in the world. The belt includes 21 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Guinea.

Out of these, the largest shea butter-producing countries are Ghana, Nigeria and the northern part of Uganda Northern part. Usually, the shea butter form Western Africa is denser, while the shea butter from East Africa is more liquid.

However, the largest exporters of shea nuts are Mali (75,000 Shea nut-Equivalent Tonnes – SET), Burkina Faso (70,000 SET) and Ghana (60,000 SET).

SET means the dry kernel equivalent, as shea products can be exported in various forms. For example, 1 tonne of butter exported requires 3 tonnes of shea nuts.

According to the Global Shea Alliance, the total exports have increased from 50,000 tonnes to 350,0000 tonnes over two decades. In Ghana, the largest exporter of unrefined shea butter, there are around 94 million shea trees in the country, which produce around 60,000 tonnes of shea nuts a year.

The global shea butter market is estimated to reach USD 2.9 billion by 2025. This will allow western countries to take advantage of the market with countries such Ghana aiming to double production of shea butter by 2023.

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