Sustainable Procurement of Shea Kernels

Management information

Relevance to our business

In the Fuji Oil Group’s vegetable oils and fats business, the shea butter extracted from shea kernels* is an important raw material used mainly as a cocoa butter equivalent (CBE). CBE is widely used in the confectionery industry and is also used as an alternative for palm oil.
Shea trees grow naturally in the shea belt located in sub-Saharan West Africa and bear fruit once a year between May and June. Many women are involved in the harvesting of shea kernels. The harvested shea kernels are heat-treated by women’s cooperatives in rural areas and then processed into edible shea butter at oil mills.

  • * Shea kernel: An embryo in the seed (shea nut) taken from the fruit of the shea tree. Main production areas are Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

Basic approach

In June 2021, the Fuji Oil Group formulated the Responsible Shea Kernel Sourcing Policy in order to facilitate sustainable development of shea kernels. After establishing the policy, we set medium- to long-term goals and KPIs to achieve sustainable procurement of shea kernels.
The Group is working toward a sustainable future by fulfilling the following three commitments set forth in the policy.

  • Conserve parkland where shea trees grow
  • Promote rural development and environmental initiatives
  • Create value in local communities

Management system

The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) oversees initiatives in this area and advances policy measures in line with our roadmap for 2030 at the subcommittee on shea kernels of the Global Sustainable Sourcing Committee.
In March 2021, the Group launched the Shea Sustainability Program Tebma-Kandu* with 16 women’s cooperatives in North Ghana, as part of our initiatives to fulfill our three commitments.

Goals / Results

Medium- to long-term goals KPI
2030 2025 2023
Forest conservation, support to women’s empowerment 6,000 trees planted/year*1 6,000 trees planted/year 6,000 trees planted/year
Traceability to the village level: 75% 50% 30%
Direct procurement of shea kernels Traceable to cooperatives: 75% N/A N/A
Out of the above cooperatives, direct procurement of shea kernels from Tebma-Kandu cooperatives: 50% 30% 20%*2
Percentage of shea kernels crushed and fractionated (separated) in Ghana: 100% N/A N/A
N/A N/A Non-fossil fuel energy*3 used by Fuji Oil Ghana Ltd.: 100% (2023 target, base year: 2021*4)
N/A Permanent, direct employees at Fuji Oil Ghana Ltd.: 50% increase (base year: 2017) N/A
  • *1 We plan to plant mainly shea tree saplings at a pace of 6,000 trees per year starting in 2021.

    *2 Our KPIs for years 2021, 2022 and 2023 are 10%, 15% and 20%, respectively.

    *3 We plan to use shea kernel meal, a byproduct of oil production, and other raw materials as non-fossil fuels.

    *4 Our current non-fossil fuel rate as of 2021 is 75%.

Specific initiatives

Solution-based approaches to implementing the Responsible Shea Kernel Sourcing Policy

Social issue Solution-based approach Location/scope
Global environment Conserve parkland where shea trees grow Ghana
Reduce environmental impact by shifting energy sources Ghana
Human rights Create value in local communities Ghana

Conserving parkland where shea trees grow

Shea and other trees are used as firewood for fuel in the heat treatment of shea kernels. The logging of trees for firewood is a serious threat to the ecosystem.
From 2021, we will plant 6,000 shea tree saplings each year to help conserve parkland where shea trees grow. Under the Tebma-Kandu program, we will also provide training to participants in collaboration with local NGOs toward proper logging methods.

Reducing environmental impact by shifting energy sources

Fuji Oil Ghana Ltd. continues to shift our production energy use to non-fossil fuels, such as by converting part of the byproducts of the shea butter production process into fuel, and to promote reduction of environmental impact from shea kernels.

Creating value in local communities

Fuji Oil Ghana Ltd. continues to process shea kernels and shea butter locally in West Africa, and conduct employee training in operations, quality and safety, in order to create value and employment in local communities.
Under the Tebma-Kandu program, the company has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with 16 women’s cooperatives, sponsors warehouses to procure specific volumes of shea kernels at a given quality from the cooperatives, and provides pre-financing without any special conditions or restrictions before the start of the harvest season. This initiative is expected to benefit about 20,000 women in Northern Ghana, empower the women involved in the shea kernel industry, and help improve the shea kernel production capacity of these cooperatives.

Collaboration with external organizations

Fuji Oil Ghana Ltd. is a member of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA)* and the Shea Network Ghana. The activities of these organizations are:

  • Storage of nuts that can be provided to women’s groups
  • Business training for women
  • Occupational health and safety initiatives
  • Development of equipment for tree planting
  • Training on the management of green areas
  • Pilot projects for green conservation