Business News of Monday, 12 November 2012
Steven Tuinstra, General Director of IGO Holding Sa., says his outfit plans to build a shea butter plant in northern Ghana to employ 20,000 women.
Speaking to City & Business Guide recently in an interview in Accra, Mr Tuinstra said multinationals from Europe, Asia and America have long dominated the shea butter market with price quotations that are very negligible in order to make huge gains.
“We have the intention to build three shea butter plants in West Africa, namely Ghana, Togo and Guinea Conakry and also open sales offices in Europe, Asia and America. This to promote the economic development of West Africa.”
According to Mr Tuinstra, “A disadvantage to processing shea nuts into shea butter in Europe, North and South America or Asia is the transport costs. To produce 1 kilogramme of shea butter, one needs 2.2 kilogrammes of shea nuts. So, it is much cheaper to produce shea butter in West Africa.
“This unique tree grows only in Africa. The secret within its fruit has been known for centuries. It is even said that some of its early users were women of noble status such as the Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra. Europeans re-discovered the tree about 300 years ago.”
Today, the shea tree could be found in 19 contiguous countries across Africa spanning about 3.000 miles from Senegal to Ethiopia. These 19 countries form what is considered the shea belt.”
He added that several attempts by Europeans to cultivate the tree had been unsuccessful and that it was very important that proper attention was given to the production of butter for export to Europe rather than exporting it in its raw form.
With an estimated 500 million productive trees, over 2.5 million tons of shea nuts are harvested annually. It is estimated that the annual harvest represents only about one-third of the nuts produced each year. Shea nuts are used by the chocolate industry (90 to 95 percent); cosmetic industry (5 to 10 percent) and pharmaceutical industry (0.05 percent).
Shea butter is also used as a cocoa butter substitute by chocolate manufacturers. Explaining further, he said the extract was known to contain a number of ingredients with biological activity.
“This biological activity includes moisturizing abilities and the healing of minor skin ailments. High-quality Shea butter is white, odourless and made from fresh nuts.
The healing fraction in shea butter is 5 percent compared to 1 percent from oil derived from fruits, vegetables and nuts while other research indicates that its healing fraction is as high as 17 percent.