Nuts from the shea tree (scientific name: vitellaria paradoxa) have been used as a softening emollient in personal care products for thousands of years. Native to Africa, these trees can only grow on what is known as the Savannah Belt, a narrow stretch of land that stretches from Mali in the west of Africa to Ethiopia in the east.

Made from the nuts of the Shea tree, shea butter is a complex and utterly unique natural substance – high in potassium, magnesium, and protein. Its 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.

Commercially, shea butter has been used in personal care formulations for more than three decades as a simple, natural emollient. However, recent research has highlighted the additional benefits of shea butter – and they are impressive. 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


Traditionally, shea butter has been used to treat rheumatism, which implies that it possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It contains unusually prominent levels of triterpenes – known for their anti-inflammatory properties.


Shea butter contains tocopherol and polyphenol, which are known antioxidants. This 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.


An excellent daily moisturiser, shea butter will keep skin from getting dried out – with laboratory tests indicating a significant difference between the skin moisturised with shea butter compared to a shea-free alternative. It is also effective when used for the relief of dry and cracked skin, sunburn, blemishes, stretchmarks, and dermatitis.

A strong partnership

Kerfoot’s shea butter supplier partner was founded in 2006 and is a member of SEDEX The Global Shea Alliance. The firm is committed to empowering rural Ghanaian communities by partnering with over 15 000 women to grow, harvest and process traditional hand-crafted shea butter and create value at the source.

To produce organic certified shea butter, the producer offers fully traceable supply chain and logistics from start to finish, from the collection of nuts in the shea parklands in West Africa to the processing in local communities. The company’s business model is performed in a socially responsible and transparent manner.

Together Kerfoot and its partner bring natural African resources to the rest of the world, delivering high-quality shea butter to the international nutrition and cosmetic markets, ensuring the value addition at the source is maximised.

The Kerfoot Group is 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.

In addition, Kerfoot has the technical expertise to deliver quality and value to existing formulations and new product developments. Contact us today for advice and guidance from concept through to completion or simply visit for more information.