IOI Loders Croklaan has become the first vegetable oils and fats company to carry sustainable shea.

The ingredient company spent the last two years working with ISCC and certification body SGS Germany to obtain ISCC certification for its shea supply chain.

Joost van Ginneken, supply chain manager Africa at IOI Loders Croklaan, says the certifications are a new milestone in a the company’s journey toward a sustainable and transparent supply chain.

“This third-party certification is the ultimate result of all the effort we have put into sustainable shea practices in recent years,” he says. “We are supporting the construction of warehouses in Ghana to improve the earnings of women collecting shea from wild growing trees. We are also one of the pioneers of the Global Shea Alliance and actively participate in their sustainability program. Prior assessments performed by Rainforest Alliance found no major sustainability hot spots in our West African shea supply chain.”

Shea trees grow only in Africa, in a belt stretching from Sudan to Senegal. They aren’t cultivated, but instead only only grow wild. And only the shea that is not locally used is sold.

The shea fruits fall from the tree when ripe and are collected and dried by local women in small savannah villages. Millions of people in West Africa, especially in rural areas, depend on shea for their livelihood.

Sven Theml, business development manager - sustainability at SGS Germany, says that during the audits in West Africa he was able to verify that the shea nuts from the supplier network of  IOI Loders Croklaan were collected from wild growing shea trees.

“Collecting shea nuts has been deeply anchored in the traditional lifestyle of female villagers for centuries,” he explains. “Selling the nuts, which are not consumed domestically, to companies like IOI Loders Croklaan is a welcome opportunity for them to earn some extra money.”

The ingredient is most commonly used in cosmetics and food manufacturing and, to a lesser extent, a fraction derivative is partly used in bioenergy. IOI Loders Croklaan has been producing shea and its applications for more than 50 years.

Juliane Pohl, ISCC system manager, says they’re happy that IOI Loders Croklaan chose “ISCC to prove the sustainability of its shea supply chain.”

“For this first certification of a shea supply chain, all existing requirements of the ISCC System have been implemented,” she explains. “Together, with SGS and IOI Loders Croklaan, the specific factors were discussed and taken into account. For example, there is no land use change for shea. The traceability through the supply chain is ensured and social aspects have been discussed with NGOs.”