Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shea Butter...Is it a Fair Trade?

Shea butter is one of  the most widely used butter in cosmetic products.  Types ranging from refined, unrefined, organic, Fair Trade, yellow or ivory are among the choices for Shea butter available for purchase.  I keep a container of Shea butter in my home instead of using store bought lotions.  I definitely appreciate the value of shea butter and it's benefits. I decided to stop patronizing Asian owned beauty supply stores in my area a while ago unless I have some type of emergency need for something I cannot wait to get if I order it online or from a store further away.  Preparation keeps me from having to often, thank goodness.  While searching online for the best type of Shea butter I kept coming across wholesalers who listed their organic unrefined Shea butter, which is the best quality of Shea butter to purchase and comes in both ivory and yellow in color.  What I also found was that there is also Fair Trade Shea Butter (FTOSB).  I didn't know what the term Fair Trade meant so I decided to do a little bit of research to find out.

What does Fair Trade Mean?

Fair Trade is a movement of individuals and organizations working to ensure that producers in poor countries receive a greater percentage of the price paid by consumers. While there are several definitions of fair trade, they all include:
  • Fair Trade Price - base price for raw ingredients or goods is adjusted higher than the open market price
  • Price Premium - a percentage above the base fair trade price is paid into a separate account for development projects in producer communities.
  • Working Conditions - Fair Trade operators must adhere to basic human and labor rights - including the right to organize, no child labor, access to health care, and so on.
  • Environmental Stewardship - Fair Trade organizations must minimize environmental impact. 

What does Fair Trade Certified mean? 

Fair Trade certification in an independent, neutral third party certification verifying that an organization upholds to fair trade, social and environmental standards in their operations.  In order for a company to become Fair Trade Certified they must:
  • respects the core labour rights as expressed in the ILO conventions such as absence of child labour, freedom of association, non discrimination,
  • grants good working conditions such as reasonable hours and remuneration, health & safety aspects, social security for workers
  • smallholder groups have a transparent administration and fair relations with farmers and guarantee minimum social standards on the small farms as well as in the group.
The social responsibility each individual feels is a personal decision to participate in supporting.  I feel this is a personal decision and one should not be judged by it however, I do feel once you know better, then why not do better?  I would much rather my money go towards companies who sale Fair Trade Shea.  Every living thing on Earth benefits from Fair Trade. Purchasing Fair Trade also ensures that the natural resources use to produce the shea butter are environmentally sound and do not abuse natural resources.

For me, just knowing their are women just like me striving to make a living for themselves and their loved ones really hit home. Since learning of the diffence in what Fair Trade Organic Shea Butter certified is why I now only purchase from wholesalers who distribute FTOSB only.  

To read more about where to buy FTOSB please visit the following links: 



  1. Great post. We always talk about shea butter and where to buy it etc. but we never think about who is making the shea butter and if they are being paid for it fairly or not.

    I purchase mine from Sheabutter Cottage in the UK b/c I know who makes it and where the money is going to.

  2. That's great Moderne Meid...more of us should be aware of where are money is going. Thank you for reading Sis.