Shea (Butyrospermum parkii) can only be found in its natural state in Africa, in the Sudan and Sahel (North of the Equator). This wild tree can grow as high as 20 meters. Its growth is slow; it bears fruit around age 20, and reaches its maximum production capacity after 50 years. Each tree produces an average of 15 to 20 kg of fruit (i.e. 3 to 4 kg of kernels) per year.
Shea plays a very important social and economic role in rural areas. The harvest and processing of Shea fruit is done by women. From May to August, they pick up the fruit once it has fallen onto the ground, and bring them home. They follow several steps to obtain the precious Shea kernels. They remove the sweet and edible pulp of the fruit, in order to obtain the nut, which is then boiled, dried in the sun and shelled. The kernel obtained is sun-dried again before being sold or processed into butter.
“Women’s gold” is thus an additional source of income for millions of women in rural Burkina Faso, and it gives them some economic independence.
Since 2016, OLVEA and L’Oréal, in partnership with Nafa Naana and Entrepreneurs du Monde, have been supplying improved cookstoves to Shea producers in south Burkina Faso in order to fight against fuel poverty and its consequences on deforestation. These improved cookstoves, used to boil Shea nuts and cook meals in Burkina Faso’s rural households, consume less firewood than traditional cookstoves. These cookstoves generate savings and improve their health, comfort and environmental impact (less wood consumed and less CO2 emissions).
In 3 years, more than 4,200 producers have benefited from this project! A total of 5,370 improved cookstoves were distributed, thus avoiding cutting more than 4,500 tons of wood and reducing the domestic work of these producers by 500,000 hours.
Production in Burkina Faso
OLVEA has been producing Shea butter in Burkina Faso since 2008, and now offers a complete range of Shea butters (conventional, organic, fair-trade and organic and fair-trade) as well as Shea oleins (conventional or fair-trade), which are refined in France, in its eco-refinery. Certified by Ecocert, OLVEA supplies organic Shea butter compliant with European Organic Regulation 889/2008 and the NOP standards, and Fair-trade Shea butter according to the Fair for Life standards of Ecocert.
With its many benefits, Shea butter has been used by local populations for thousands of years in cooking and traditional medicine. Thanks to its exceptionally rich unsaponifiable matter (kariten, terpene alcohol and tocopherols), it is used in the formulation of a wide range of beauty products: skin and lip care, sun care and hair care.