East African shea butter is more expensive than the common West African kind. Here’s why.

  • In Uganda, 1 kilogram of cold-pressed East African shea butter can cost $12.
  • When it’s exported, it costs more than four times that price.
  • Also known as nilotica, the shea trees producing these nuts are found only in East Africa.

When you hear “shea butter,” you probably think of the West African kind. But in East Africa, a different variety of shea nut grows, called nilotica. It’s easier to spread and absorbs quickly into the skin, which makes it more desirable in cosmetics. In Uganda, nilotica producers are trying to meet growing demand for this butter.


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