Progressing on responsible sourcing

in the unique shea supply chain

Responsible sourcing of shea

The fruit produced by the shea tree is a very sustainable crop, the cultivation of which requires no fertilizers or pesticides. Growing wild in an area known as the shea belt, which stretches across western Africa, the shea tree is an important source of income for the communities that live in this area.

Traditionally, it is women who collect the shea fruit and process the kernels it contains. Income earned from the crop provides women with funds to alleviate poverty and hunger, to invest in children’s education and capital to support other income-generating activities.

Understanding our supply base

Together with our partner Proforest, we have conducted a risk assessment of the general shea supply chain. AAK has identified, and is working on, the following priorities for responsible sourcing throughout our shea supply chains:


  • Shea trees are lost due to use as firewood, planned burnings, grazing of cattle and the expansion of living and farming areas due to population growth
  • Water used to boil shea kernels.

Health and safety

  • Snake and scorpion bites during harvest
  • Long walks to fields and parklands
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Exposure to open fires during boiling process


  • Lack of transparency due to middlemen in traditional supply chain

Engaging with suppliers and farmers in the traditional supply chain

Our general shea dashboard below helps guide our compliance and sustainability work in West Africa. More information is available in our shea progress reports here.

Engaging with suppliers and farmers in the Kolo Nafaso supply chain

In 2009, AAK established our direct women’s group supply chain Kolo Nafaso. The direct link to hundreds of thousands of women allows us to successfully mitigate many challenges we have identified in "Understanding our supply base" (see above) more directly, and to be more impactful.  

Traditional shea supply chain

  • No plantations - agroforestry
  • Extensive networks of middlemen providing logistics
  • Important extra income for individual women

Women's groups supply chain - Kolo Nafaso

  • AAK has taken responsibility as market leader
  • Direct sourcing from women
  • Extension officers providing extra training and support

The Kolo Nafaso dashboard below helps us track of our progress in the program. More information is available in our shea progress reports here.

Get in touch with your Co-Development partner

AAK House of Sustainability

Our House of Sustainability has guided our continued progress and represents the foundational structure of our sustainability initiatives and how we make it part of our DNA.

More about our responsible sourcing

Responsible sourcing of palm

Globally, palm oil is the most produced and consumed vegetable oil, accounting for 30 percent of the world’s vegetable oil production. Find out how AAK supports the move towards full sustainability in the palm oil industry.

Responsible sourcing of coconut

Coconut-growing countries in Asia-Pacific rely on the sale of coconut products as export income. Find out more regarding AAK’s coconut supply chain here.

Responsible sourcing of rapeseed

Rapeseed oil is one of the most important vegetable oils used in food as well as biodiesel. Today, rapeseed is the oil plant of Northern Europe and a key raw material for AAK.