Shea butter remains one of the most lucrative and profitable commodities on the cosmetics and food market due to its multiple uses. Though mostly known as a skin and hair product, shea butter has been used as a substitute for cocoa butter in baking and chocolate products.
According to a market analysis report written by the Grand View Research, the global shea butter market size was valued at USD 2.07 billion in 2021 and is expected to keep expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.8% from 2022 – 2030.
Shea butter is made from the shea tree, an oak tree that is native to Africa and is produced in roughly 21 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Guinea.
Out of these countries, the top producers of shea butter are Nigeria, Ghana and Northern Uganda.
There are two different shea butter tree species, Vitellaria Paradoxa from West Africa and Vitellaria Nilotica, from East Africa. Both tree species begin producing their first fruit around 20 years old and reach full production capacity around 50 years.
The first step to producing shea butter after harvest is to crack open the nuts for a thorough wash before leaving them to dry under the sun to reduce moisture content. After drying the nuts, the nuts are pounded and roasted till they turn a chocolate brown color. Water is then added and mixed in to form a paste. The final stage is to place the paste on high heat so the fat rises to the surface and the oil settles at the bottom. The fat is separated and the oil is left to cool and solidify.
There are a lot of ways to profit from the shea butter value chain, and this is not only when it comes out as a finished product.
In Africa, Shea butter is usually grown in rural areas where transportation is hard to come by. By providing transportation during the harvest season, you will be able to make a huge profit without being a shea butter farmer or producer yourself.
Another way to profit from shea butter is to own a production facility where the slow process of making shea butter will be mechanized and provide an opportunity to produce in larger quantities. In this case, you may decide to charge a fee to other people so they can process their shea nuts at your factory.
Shea butter also has a lot of uses, both in food, hair and skin – internationally and locally. China alone imports about 70,000 tons of shea butter annually. So if you can put your shea butter into a finished product, you will be able to tap into the global market and make a living.
Just like any other business, shea butter also poses a lot of risks but one thing is for sure, by carefully planning and entering into any stage of the value chain, you would be able to turn things around profitably for yourself.