AAK extends sustainable shea programme

Published: 24-Aug-2021

The Kolo Nafaso scheme is designed to support the ethical chocolate category surge

AAK has extended its Kolo Nafaso shea sourcing programme designed to support the growing demand for ethically produced chocolate confectionery. The program currently reaches 320,000 women in West Africa, representing 8 percent of the global shea industry’s workforce.

Ethical claims are the fastest-growing types of claims in the chocolate confectionery and chocolate spreads sectors, according to Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database), having increased by about 70% between 2016 and 2020.

Shea is a widely used plant-based fat ingredient in chocolate products, where it is used to provide texture and functionality. Demand for sustainably sourced shea is higher than ever, AAK claims.

AAK sources shea kernels from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ivory Coast where women predominantly collect the kernels. Within the Kolo Nafaso programme, established in 2009, the company purchases directly from women’s groups, ranging from seven to 400 in size. As a result, the company says, women are empowered to invest back into their own communities, enabling them to build a better livelihood.

The company says it provides support through the direct purchasing relationship, which avoids intermediaries and maximises traceability and transparency, resulting in ethical claims that can be carried through to finished products.

Luis Parra, Global Business Director Chocolate & Confectionery Fats, said: “To the best of our knowledge, no other commercial program empowers women on the scale of Kolo Nafaso. Our vision is to continuously improve our collaboration and expand its impact in West Africa. We also hope that our model for sustainable sourcing can be inspirational to many other companies.”

In 2020, the programmes in Burkina Faso and Ghana were verified by Proforest, a non-profit organisation that promotes responsible production and sourcing of agricultural commodities. In 2021, the full scope of Kolo Nafaso has been verified, including Ivory Coast.

Women participating in the programme have access to a pre-financing scheme that the company says ensures a stable income during the leanest period of the year, avoiding a large drop in income when shea is out of season. They can also opt to receive interest-free credits during lean periods, helping them to maintain their living standards throughout the year and not just during the shea kernel harvest.

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