High quality natural, handcrafted shea butter

High quality natural shea butter

Toontibo offers conventional refined and high quality natural shea butter for cosmetic companies and food manufacturing companies. Shea butter is one of the healthiest natural fats for human consumption. Our Shea butter is a sustainable and healthy alternative for Palm oil and Coconut oil. Above all, Shea butter is well known for its moisturizing, healing and rejuvenating qualities for the skin. Handcrafted Shea butter contains high concentrations of vitamin A, E and F, making it food for your skin. 

Source of origin 

Our Shea butter is handcrafted by Dipaliya Women’s Association Ghana. The Dipaliya production center in Saakuba village is one of the largest and best utilated of its kind. Saakuba village is in Kumbungu District, 30 min North-East of Tamale. The Shea nuts are purchased from women collectors in remote areas and quality-selected by women processors from Dipaliya. Women from seven villages are working in the center. They have been educated to process Shea butter according to Ecocert organic certification standards. We export the Shea butter to the Netherlands for refining in Zaandam and ship worldwide from the Netherlands. 

High quality natural shea butter

High quality

Our Shea butter is a 100% natural, handcrafted product produced and refined without addition of chemicals and free from animal testing. We use hand-picked Shea nuts, selected on quality by the women processors. Our refined Shea butter meets all EU, USA and UK quality standards for professional use in cosmetics and food. On request we can offer a quotation with the required quality documents such as the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and a Report of Analysis. We can also send you a sample for testing in your own laboratory.

High quality natural shea butter
High quality natural shea butter


Market research shows that consumer brands with a traceable story grow 50% faster than average. We offer you traceability from Shea nut to the product you are buying. Shea nuts purchased by Dipaliya from women collectors are documented by bag and source of origin. Each bag given out for processing is documented by the women processor making Shea butter from it. Each box of Shea butter is documented by the women processor who made it. Before packing the butter is quality tested to assure every woman produces according to our high-quality standards. Containers for transport are loaded at the processing center and sealed after custom clearance, before transport to the Netherlands. On arrival at the refinery the seal is taken off and the Shea butter is inspected. The Shea butter is refined at Zaanlandse Olie Maatschappijen (ZOR), internationally known as one of the best refineries for Shea butter. After refining the Shea butter is laboratory analyzed, repacked and relabeled in boxes of 25kg. After repacking the Shea butter is stored at our warehouse in Zaandam or directly shipped to our clients. 


Not without reason Dipaliya has become preferred supplier for international traders in Ghana. Over the years the women’s cooperative has built a reputation for constant quality and timely delivery. Toontibo is run by professionals in the Netherlands with years of experience in supply chain management, logistics, international trade and doing business on the African continent. The Toontibo staff is highly committed to sustainable trading in Shea butter based on decent payment of the women processors and Return on Extraction to Africa. We call this Fair Chain Trade. We are committed to long term relationships, offering our clients the highest quality sustainable Shea butter at competitive prices. We do not compete on price. We offer our clients competitive advantage for their own marketing and value for money through Operational Excellence and Customer Intimacy.

High quality handcrafted shea butter
High quality natural shea butter


One of our core values is that sustainable trading in Shea butter starts at the source of origin in Africa. We strongly believe that paying the women processors a decent fee is the most effective and strongest pillar for sustainable a chain in Shea butter trading. Underpayment of the women producers and machine crafting of Shea butter are having devasting impact on local communities and the landscape. We structure our operations and processes to benefit áll our stakeholders, including Mother Ghana. We create value and minimize depletion of natural, economic and social capital. To secure our future need in Shea nuts and because of growing demand in Shea butter we invest substantially in community development, in strengthening of local economies, and in restore of Nature. By purchasing Shea butter from Toontibo you are contributing to sustainable and flourishing communities in Africa. The positive impact of our activities is visible in the local communities and traceable for those outside. We also offer our clients the opportunity to participate more directly in our community development projects.

The process of Shea butter making

Making handcrafted Shea butter is strongly connected to the tradition of the Dagomba tribe. For centuries mothers have been passing on this skill to their daughters. Making Shea butter gives a woman social dignity and empowers her through the income it generates. However, this tradition is under pressure. Due to the dynamics in international trade women are not sufficiently paid for making Shea butter or the nuts are bought directly at the farms, so that the women have no income. In order to change this, we have founded Toontibo; a trading company co-owned by the women producing the handcrafted Shea butter we are selling.

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Product specification

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) is registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) by the branch as an organic product (Fats and Glyceridic oils, Shea butter, unsaponifiable fraction – EC number 607-097-4, CAS number 225234-14-0).

Handcrafted in Ghana
CAS 91080-23-8
EINECS 293-515-7
Appearance: Soft solid
Color: Off-white to ivory
Odor: Faint, characteristic
Melting point: °C 28,0 – 34,0
Hazardous components: None
(Chemical) Additives: None

Producer: Dipaliya Women’s Association, Saakuba, Ghana
Refinery: Zaanlandse Olie Raffinaderijen (ZOR), Zaandam, the Netherlands
Storage: Zaandam, the Netherlands
Shelf Life: 2 years from date of refining

FDA Ghana & export/import licenses: available on request
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS): available on request
Technical Data Sheet (TDS): available on request
Laboratory Report of Analysis: available on request
Samples for own testing: available on request

High quality handcrafted shea butter

Frequently asked questions by our clients

Where can I collect my Shea butter order?

We have a stock in our warehouse in Zaandam. The Shea butter is sold Free Carrier (FCA) from Zaandam. This means you can either collect the Shea butter at the warehouse or we can arrange transport for you at extra costs. Toontibo can ship worldwide.

What is the delivery time for my order?

With orders under 10.000kg Toontibo can supply directly from our stock in Zaandam. We work with cash against invoices, delivery takes place after payment. When you have asked us to organize transport for you transport will be arranged using a global carrier such as DHL Their standard delivery times also apply here. Due to Covid-19, shipping might be delayed.

What are the quantities you can provide?

We sell traditionally handcrafted shea butter in boxes of 25 kg each. The minimum order we accept is one box. We can supply you with pallets (40 boxes, 1.000kg) or full containers (800 boxes, 20.000kg). The production capacity of the Shea butter processing center is 220-240.000kg per year. In addition, Dipaliya has an equal capacity for village-based processing of Shea butter.

Does your Shea butter meet the standards for professional use in cosmetics and food?

Dipaliya produces high quality unrefined Shea butter. After exporting to the Netherlands Toontibo has the Shea butter refined at Z.O.R. in Zaandam, worldwide quality leader for refining Shea butter. We do not use chemicals for refining and there are different ways Shea butter can be refined. Since our primary focus is to supply to the cosmetics industry, most Shea butter we have in stock is refined specifically for professional use in cosmetic products. It meets the FDA requirements for Europe, the UK and the USA. For pre-orders we can adjust the refining parameters to your specific needs or fractionate the Shea butter for use in food products. With your order or quotation request you receive the required documents such as the lab analysis report, the PDS and MSDS.

What is Toontibo?

Toontibo is a purpose-driven trading company that – like inspiring examples such as Tony Chocolony and the Vegetarian Butcher – is committed to a more sustainable world. We have introduced Fairchain-trade in the international Shea butter market. We sell handcrafted Shea butter with the objective to pay the women producers (and collectors of Shea nuts) at least at poverty rate and to make the consumer aware of Fairchain-trade as a sustainable solution for resolving poverty and environmental decay.

Why did you start Toontibo?

Sheabutter is called “The woman’s gold” because of the social and economic value it has for women in traditional communities in Africa. Over the years that our founder, Alain Volz, has spent with these women he noticed how money is earned in international Shea butter trading, leaving the women behind in poverty. Our team is driven to change this situation and introduced the term Fairchain-trade.

What is Fairchain-trade Shea butter?

The four basic principles of Fairchain-trade are:
1. Stability – Women-producers of Shea butter and women-collectors of Shea nuts earn at least at poverty rate; $ 700,– per year.
2. Transparency – Sourcing of our raw materials and the process of production, export and refining Shea butter is transparent for our clients.
3. Autonomy – As part of our production costs the women cooperative(s) in Africa receive funding for community projects. As Toontibo shareholder the women’s cooperative receives dividends from the profit made.
4. Impact – Investments made by the local communities are transparent and the impact in the communities is visible & measurable.


What is the difference with Fairtrade?

Fairtrade does bring improvement for the women, but not as much as we believe is sustainable and possible. Fairtrade Sheabutter doesn’t provide a woman-processing Shea butter or woman collecting of Shea nuts an income at least at poverty rate. The additional income a woman receives as a Fairtrade premium is relatively low compared to the extra profits made by the middle-men traders and the retailers in Western countries. The Fairchain wages Toontibo pays the women-producers are 150% of what a woman would earn with a Fairtrade contract. The remaining income for a woman to spend on her household is 3-4 times higher as with an average Fairtrade contract.


Does Toontibo sell organic certified Shea butter?

Shea butter is registered by the branch with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as an organic product. Though the Shea butter processing center is Ecocert organic certified Dipaliya doesn’t produce organic certified Shea butter. The women groups we buy our Shea nuts from do not have the skills nor the financial resources to invest in facilities, training, audits and documents required for organic certification. And, like Fairtrade, the benefits of organic certification for the women do not weigh up to the benefits for the traders and retail sellers. Toontibo Fairchain-trade Sheabutter is organic, though not certified.


Why does Toontibo not prioritize organic certification?

Sourcing of organic certified Shea nuts is dominated by Western traders and companies. The terms and procedures for organic certification of Shea nuts are time-consuming, complex and costly. Though the demand for organic certified Shea butter in the international markets is growing rapidly, it does not bring the women and communities the benefits we believe it should. The sourcing of organic certified Shea nuts is a complex matter due to the negative consequences it has for traditional land rights and autonomy of the women groups and their communities. Instead of buying expensive certified Shea nuts from traders who control this market we invest in sustainable sourcing of our own organic certified Shea nuts. Focus in our activities with the local communities is to heal the soil and implement organic community farming providing the communities food security with autonomy over their land, enabling Toontibo in ethical sourcing of organic certified Shea nuts in a sustainable business model.


How do Fairchain wages compare to Fairtrade and Organic certification premiums?

The Fairchain wages Toontibo pays the women-producers are 150% of what a woman would earn with a Fairtrade contract. The remaining income for a woman to spend on her household is 3-4 times higher as with an average contract for Fairtrade production. The Fairchain wages Toontibo pays the women-producers are 150% of what a woman would earn with a contract for producing organic certified Shea butter. The remaining income for a woman to spend on her household is 3-4 times higher as with an average contract for organic certified production.
The Fairchain wages Toontibo pays the women-producers are 140% of what a woman would earn with a contract for the production of organic certified, Fairtrade Shea butter. The remaining income for a woman to spend on her household is 3 times higher as with an average contract for Fairtrade organic certified production.


What is Return on Extraction?

Return on Extraction means to add value to the rural communities with the objective to return more to Earth than she gives us for the production of Shea butter. We aim to become transparent about our ecological footprint; we aim to compensate for the use of Shea nuts, firewood and water; and reduce our Co2 emissions by planting new Shea trees, by investing in more efficient ovens and roasters, and by initiating organic community-farming projects & eco-restore programs. Focus in our activities with the local communities is to heal the soil and implement organic community farming providing the communities food security with autonomy over their land, enabling Toontibo in ethical sourcing of organic certified Shea nuts in a sustainable business model.


Where does your Shea butter come from?

Toontibo sells traditional handcrafted Shea butter. The 1000+ women-producers are organized as a registered cooperative, Dipaliya Women’s Association Ghana. In 2019 Leap into Life Foundation has built a large processing center for Shea butter handcraft in Saakuba village, Kumbungu District, about 30-60 minutes north-east from Tamale. The Shea nuts are purchased from women in rural villages in Ghana’s Northern Region. The Shea butter is transported from the facility in Ghana to Zaandam, the Netherlands for (non-chemical) refining. After refining with the Zaanlandse Olie Raffinaderijen (ZOR) the Shea butter is repacked, stored at our warehouse in Zaandam or sent directly to the buyer.


What is traditional handcrafted Shea butter?

Shea butter is part of traditional life in West Africa. People have been using it as primary oil for cooking and skincare for centuries. For many generations (grand)mothers pass the skill of Shea butter making on to their (grand)daughters. Shea butter making gives a woman a social position in her community and provides income. The process of Shea butter handcraft takes 4-5 days. The women from Dipaliya are organized in groups of 20 that work collectively in the center. The only machines there are mills and crushers for the Shea nuts. Though kneading is hard work and takes several hours, the women have asked us not to replace this handcraft with a kneading machine. Kneading is a social moment where the women discuss issues in the village or their household.

What is the difference with machine-crafted Shea butter?

Most Shea butter that is offered in international trade is machine-crafted. Shea nuts are bought for a fraction of the price of Shea butter and transported to factories outside the region. We do not believe the extraction of Shea nuts is a sustainable option. A woman earns far less, and she is deprived of her social position in the community. Though handcrafted Shea butter has a reputation to vary in quality, the impurities in machine-crafted Shea butter often is higher. The women producers and staff from Dipaliya apply quality checks after each stage in the process, assuring consistency and high quality.


What is the difference between refined and unrefined Shea butter?

The women extract the oil from the kernel of the Shea nut and process this into Shea butter. This butter is called “Raw Shea butter”. The Shea butter has a light beige color and has a natural scent. The term unrefined Shea butter comes from the Shea industry. Unrefined Shea butter is Raw Shea butter. The cosmetics and food sector use Shea butter primarily for moisture and request the raw material to be as free of scent, color and acids as possible. Refining is a process to clear the Shea butter from impurities and lowers the acidity of the Shea butter. This can be done in different ways. Toontibo applies a non-chemical method for purifying the Raw Shea butter into a premium quality product for cosmetic brands that want the best for their customers. Our Shea butter is refined and ready for use as ingredient for your cosmetic brand.

Contact us if you want us to supply you in Raw Fairchain-trade Shea butter, exported directly from Ghana. A minimum order of 5000kg is required for us to make you a tailor-made offer for Raw Fairchain-trade Shea butter from the village.


What is sustainable Shea butter?

Our statement is that sustainability starts by providing the suppliers and producers at the Bottom of the Pyramid an income at least at poverty rate. The negative impact of underpayment in the Shea industry is much larger than the benefits of the trade and aid programs. Machine-crafted Shea butter is not sustainable because it is a business model based on the extraction of resources at low costs. The women earn less than 1/3 selling Shea nuts of what they would earn producing Shea butter.
A second criterium for sustainable Shea butter is Return on Extraction – are investments made to preserve and restore the Savannah landscape and is it done in such a way that the communities become more resilient and autonomous? An issue with most of the land projects is that they decrease the autonomy of the communities; Chiefs lose authority over the land. In Dagoba tradition, the Chiefs must preserve the land for their community and must take care of it for the next generations to have healthy soil and crops. Unfortunately, many Chiefs are tempted or forced to sell land or to give authority over the land to a foreign ‘sponsor’. This is one of the negative aspects of how organic certification programs are currently run.


How do you guarantee the quality?

The women we work with have been making Shea butter for years as a preferred supplier for international trade. Dipaliya is known for its reliability in terms of quality and timely delivery.
Dipaliya buys the Shea nuts from women in rural villages where Dipaliya has relationships with the communities and Chiefs. The women who produce the Shea butter have organized a representative group to inspect the Shea nuts and select the best Shea nuts for the center to purchase.
The Shea butter is processed according to Ecocert organic standard procedures. To assure high quality of the Shea butter Dipaliya has developed in addition a practical and effective quality control system for the production process. After each step in the production process, the quality is inspected. Sheabutter that does not meet up to the high Dipaliya standards is declined. This happens rarely.

Order high quality natural Shea butter for your business here