Shea Butter: The perfect multi-functional ingredient you didn't know you needed

Complex and unique, Shea Butter is regarded one of nature’s best emollients when used in personal care formulations. But did you know that it also has a proven track record when used in the food processing industry?

For centuries, Shea Butter was known as ‘Women’s Gold,’ in part, to the employment opportunities its growing and harvesting offered to women across the African continent. Since its first documented use in Ancient Egypt, (Shea Butter was said to be a favourite of Cleopatra) it is still incredibly popular – in part to increasing demand for clean label ingredients that can tick all-natural and organic boxes. In addition, its vegan positioning makes it one of the hottest ingredients to include in your NPD year!

Sourced from the nuts of the Karit tree that grows in the Sahel region, extending from West to East Africa, Shea Butter offers a high concentration of vitamins A, D, E and K, essential fatty oleic, stearic, linoleic, and palmitic acids. As consumers and product formulators are starting to realise the unique functionality of the product, the industry is showing consistent growth with an impressive CAGR of 14.0% during the estimated period 2021 to 2028.1

A valuable fat in food formulations

Shea Butter is under intense scrutiny for use in food applications, especially during vegan margarine manufacturing. One of its biggest advantages is that it can eliminate the hydrogenation process that leads to the formation of trans-unsaturated fatty acids. This can result in a reduction of fat content – lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

In addition, Shea Butter contains the same antioxidants and polyphenols as those found in dark chocolate and green tea and is seen as a healthy alternative to Cocoa Butter. In fact, the EU’s directive 2000/36/EC allows Shea Butter to be used as a substitute for Cocoa Butter in the chocolate industry – adding a great organoleptic, sensory and texture experience for consumers. The unique properties of edible shea fat can add significant versatility to your product development and positively impact on shelf life, better heat stability, an increased melting point and a reduction in bloom formation.2

Proven emollient in personal care development

Complex and utterly unique, Shea Butter’s chemical composition is made up of essential fatty acid triglycerides, including stearic, linoleic, palmitic, and oleic acids. It also contains unsaponifiables such as sterols and phenols.

During soap making, these compounds are non-reactive – giving shea butter products its characteristic moisturising and conditioning properties.

With unusually prominent levels of triterpenes, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, Shea Butter is an excellent anti-inflammatory, while its tocopherol and polyphenol content with known antioxidants makes the ingredient ideal for use in cosmetic applications. Antioxidants protect the skin by limiting the number of free radicals your skin produces, preventing damage to skin cells. Over time, this can contribute to smoother, healthier, and younger looking skin.

We are proud to offer superior quality Shea Butter as part of our ingredient portfolio. Our products are backed by leading technical expertise, consistent and traceable stockholding, blending capabilities and supply chain excellence.

We source our shea butter for personal care and food applications from The Savannah Fruits Company, based in Ghana. This enables us to focus on offering a sustainably produced, export quality, traditionally handcrafted product. We are proud of our technical expertise that can assist you in delivering quality and value to existing formulations and new product developments.

Contact us for more information on our products.



  2. shea butter in the food industry is widely used as a fat equivalent to replace cocoa butter (
Go up