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Newly Permitted Food Ingredients Create Largest Shea Market in the U.S. and Grow West African Exports

December 17, 2020, Accra Ghana – Global Shea Alliance (GSA) member and sustainability
partner Bunge Loders Croklaan recently received a “no questions” letter from the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)
notification for a new shea ingredient. The FDA letter effectively allows the use of shea butter
fractions and their mixtures in the manufacturing and distribution of a variety of U.S. products
including baked goods and breakfast cereals. The new market could potentially boost West
African shea exports to the U.S. by an estimated 13,480 MT annually and generate
$8,519,432 additional income per year for West African economies. GSA President, Simballa
Sylla, said “Our members are creating new export markets that are critical to the
advancement of the shea industry. We are thrilled the U.S. is welcoming shea ingredients to
improve so many different consumer products.”

New Shea Opportunities in the U.S.
In 1998, the first shea food ingredient known as “sheanut oil” was recognized as a GRAS
ingredient in the U.S. The ingredient, however, is only permissible in confections and
frostings, coatings of soft candy, and sweet sauces and toppings. Today, according to GSA
estimates, the U.S. shea market consumes approximately 17,500 MT of shea (kernel
equivalent) annually in both the food and personal care sectors.

The second GRAS recognized shea ingredient – shea butter fractions and their mixtures, in
Bunge’s notification– allows manufacturers the ability to incorporate this new shea
ingredient into many applications and meet key trends such as sustainability, sensory
experience, and more provided they meet the specification and other conditions in Bunge’s
notice. This new shea ingredient will help enhance the texture, stability, and melting points
of a variety of packaged goods including cookies, croissants, margarines, mayonnaise, salad
dressing, snack bars, nut and seed butters, and candy bars.

New Shea Opportunities in West Africa
Sidley Austin LLP’s, trade economists performed an analysis of the potential economic
impact from the U.S. market established by the new shea ingredient. Sidley economists
provided a conservative estimate that the U.S. will consume 5,931 MT per year of the shea
ingredient worth an estimated $14,828,125. The new U.S. market could expand shea (kernel equivalent) exports by 13,480 MT annually creating an economic impact in West Africa of
$8,519,432 per year. Even on a conservative basis, this new market will increase shea trade
with the U.S. by 77 percent over the status quo. The analysis is attached as an appendix to
this press release.

GSA Policy Advocacy
A key focus of the GSA mission is to advocate for policies that remove trade barriers
inhibiting growth of shea markets. GSA first identified U.S. food safety regulations as an
impediment to trade with West African countries at its 2016 North American Trade and
Industry conference in Washington, D.C. GSA then organized a working group comprised
of member companies that compiled existing research that would support new GRAS
notices. The working group also undertook a gap analysis, analyzing FDA requirements
versus the compiled studies and data. The information was utilized by GSA members to
support individual GRAS notices to the U.S. FDA.

Shea and Sustainability
Nearly 2 billion shea trees grow naturally on parklands in 21 African countries stretching from
Senegal to South Sudan. 16 million women living in rural communities individually collect the
fresh fruits and the kernel is processed to extract a vegetable oil known as “shea butter.”
Shea offers technical benefits as a cooking oil and food/cosmetic ingredient, and is widely
available in Africa. With approximately 800,000 tons collected each year, the industry
provides a critical source of jobs and incomes to often poor and underserved communities.
A recent GSA and United Nations Food and Agricultural study found that the shea value
chain fixes 1.5 million tons of CO2 each year.

Through its sustainability program, GSA supports its members in identifying industry wide
challenges and implementing collaborative projects that promote women’s empowerment
and protection of the shea eco-system. GSA is currently implementing an $1M 5-year
partnership with USAID West Africa called the sustainable shea initiative (SSI) which has
supported 180,000 women collectors and processors, and increased the income of
beneficiaries by 45%. The USAID West Africa Mission Director, Daniel Moore said “We are
proud to support GSA in improving the livelihoods of so many shea collectors and
processors. USAID also recognizes the critical importance of expanding business
opportunities in West Africa as a means to achieve development goals and move our partner
nations along their journeys to self-reliance. So, we are delighted to see these new trading
opportunities between the U.S. and West African nations.”

The GSA is a non-profit industry association with 560 members from 35 countries including
women’s groups, brands and retailers, suppliers, and NGOs. Through public-private
partnerships, the GSA promotes industry sustainability, quality practices and standards, and
demand for shea in food and cosmetics.

About USAID West Africa
The USAID/West Africa regional mission’s goal is to promote social and economic well-being
advanced by West Africans. Spanning 21 countries, USAID/West Africa designs and
implements programs with West African partners to strengthen systems of non-violent
conflict management, support economic growth, and expand quality health services. The
American people, through USAID, provide economic and humanitarian assistance in more
than 100 countries worldwide. For more information please visit www.usaid.gov/west-africaregional

About Sidley Austin’s Pro Bono Program
Launched by Sidley in 2012, the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program provides free legal
support to eligible small- and medium-size for-profit enterprises and market-focused
nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits that have a clear social impact in developing
countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Sidley provides
pro-bono services to GSA on behalf of West African producing nations in order to expand
their access to international markets and improve small and medium sized business
opportunities. For more information please visit www.sidley.com/en/probonolanding/sidleyemerging-enterprises-pro-bono-program.