Saturday, August 6, 2011

Product Profile: Shea Nuts

Description:. Shea nuts are primarily grown in West and Central Africa in the semi-arid Sahel,referred to by traders as the "Shea Belt". Vitellaria paradoxa and Vitellaria nilotica are the two main varieties. Vitellaria paradoxa is exported in the largest volume and grows throughout the West African region.Vitellaria nilotica is produced primarily in northern Uganda and southern Sudan.

Harvest: Shea nut trees grow widely and naturally in West Africa. They only begin to bear fruit after about 20 years and do not reach maturity for 45 years. They may continue to produce nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity.  The nuts, which are embedded in a soft fruit, fall to the ground during the harvesting period (typically June through August). They are then buried in pits which cause the pulp to ferment and disintegrate and produce enough heat to prevent germination. The nuts are dried for a few days and are later shelled and winnowed, usually by hand. The kernels are dried further to reduce moisture content from about 40 percent to about 7 percent.

Locations: Sheanut grows in the wild across the Sudan-Sahelian region of Africa. The major producing countries are: Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Burkina Faso and Central African Republic. Nigeria is currently the leading producer of Sheanut in the world and in 2004 Nigeria's production of the commodity was 414,000 metric tonnes with export value of US$61.04 million (Source: FAO).  Shea nut is grown in Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Oyo and Ogun state. It can also be found in a number of the northern states of Nigeria.

Specifications: Individual companies specify their own quality standards for purchases of shea nuts. The following is a benchmark for the composition of the shea nut required for import:

Free Fatty Acids (FFA)
less than or equal to 6%
Moisture Content
less than or equal to 10%
Oil Content
greater than or equal to 45%

The oil content is the most crucial element of the shea nut as that component is an important ingredient in the composition of the butter that goes into Cocoa Butter Equivalents and other by-products. If the oil content is higher and the FFA and moisture content is lower, then the exporter will receive a price premium.

Uses: Shea nuts are mainly use in the production of Shea Butter. Therefore all the uses of shea nuts are invariably embedded in the economic importance of Shea Butter. This information can be found under the Shea butter product profiles on this blog. Click this link for these details

Export market: A few companies based in Europe control the import market for shea nuts. Their main clients are chocolate manufacturers as the shea nut by-products are among the principal ingredients in cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs). Major destinations for Nigeria's Sheanut are the EU and Japan. Major European importing companies are primarily based in Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

Export Price: The export market price on FOB terms ranges from USD350-650/MT and sometimes or even more depending on the period during its season.

Local price: The local market price of shea nuts per MT ranges from NGN40,000 to NGN80,00.00 or even more to deliver it to Lagos during the season.


  1. Blog is very informative. I know demand of this growing day by day. A detail market survey required in Nigeria especially in Kano state. Is there any govt. plantation plan?

  2. Very informative blog. Is there any Govt.plan for its marketing survey/ support or plantation in Nigeria?