Nigeria is the largest producer of Shea in the world but has less brand recognition than other West African producers in export markets. Shea trees are found in 21 states in Nigeria but only four states – Kebbi, Kwara, Oyo and Niger have export grade shea in abundant quantity. In 2014 Nigeria produced about 358,720 tonnes of Shea which were mostly smuggled out of the country to Republic of Benin for export to international markets thus, no official records exist for Nigeria’s Shea exports. Thus, Shea export data is derived from anecdotal observation, estimated global Shea exports and prevailing international prices.
There is a growing interest in Shea butter from Nigeria for use as ingredients in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and confectionary industries, yet the commodity is in limited supply as much of it is processed by local women through crude and labour intensive means. The strong interest in the product by cosmetic companies is due to growing demand for a more natural product that is perfect for skin. 10% of the world demand is by the cosmetic companies in the US and European Countries while 90% of world demand is by the chocolate and confectioneries industry. Due to the rising cost of Cocoa the use of Shea butter (which is cheaper) is also growing as a Cocoa butter substitute or improver and the EU allows confectioners to substitute up to 5% of Cocoa butter with Shea butter and its derivatives. This provides a viable and booming export markets for investors in the Shea industry in Nigeria.
Shea butter processing in Nigeria is mainly done by rural women using manual methods at extraction rates of less than 35%. The bulk of the processing, refining and fractionation is still done outside Nigerian borders. Investment in the processing of the butter in large volume will not only be profitable, but will also generate foreign exchange earnings from its export sales.
Read more here about Shea butter processing in our new feasibility report about processing 50 tons of Shea nuts into export grade Shea butter and cake daily which would give an optimal production rate of 12,500 annually using the cold pressed method.
This video tells you more about the uses and types of Shea butter. Thanks for watching.