WORMERVEER, THE NETHERLANDS — Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC), the specialty oils and fats business of Bunge Ltd., has opened a new shea butter processing plant in Tema, Ghana. In connection with the plant opening, BLC said it is launching Where Life Grows, a new campaign that celebrates the company’s efforts to build a resilient and sustainable shea supply chain in Africa.

Operational since 2019, the facility is BLC’s first shea processing plant in Africa and the largest of its kind on the continent. According to BLC, the facility is a fully automated solvent fractionation plant that processes raw shea butter made from locally collected and crushed shea nuts into two major products: shea olein and shea stearin.

BLC said it then sends the shea stearin to its facilities in The Netherlands, Malaysia, the United States and Canada for further processing, where it is used to produce ingredients that may be used in many food and non-food applications, including cocoa butter equivalents that are used in chocolate confectionery.

“Our latest investment in Ghana plays a critical role in strengthening BLC’s global infrastructure for processing and supplying high-quality shea products to our customers around the world, while also bolstering the entire ecosystem of regional crushers and local shea collectors in the West African region,” said Aaron Buettner, president of BLC. “The facility allows us to meaningfully support and empower the local shea communities through the transfer of knowledge of value-adding processes and by investing in local skills development. We are proud to join forces with local communities to help build and advance the African shea industry together.”

 BLC said the facility employs 73 people, mostly from the local community, and its strategic location allows for a more efficient production process.

The Where Life Grows campaign is part of BLC’s ongoing commitments and efforts within its shea sustainability program, which was established three years ago with the objective to empower shea-collecting women, create socio-economic value in their communities, and conserve and regenerate the shea landscape in the region.

“We believe that the key to building a better tomorrow for shea communities is by investing in sustainable trade and income diversification,” said Ben Vreeburg, senior director of sustainability for tropical oils, BLC. “This belief is what brings our shea sustainability initiatives to life and the Where Life Grows campaign captures our commitment to create value to the countries and communities where shea is originated.”