Upfield, the global leader in plant-based nutrition and leading producer of plant-based margarines, spreads and cheeses, has announced the launch of the first phase of its Shea Sustainability Initiative in West Africa. The initiative is expected to grow 6,000 shea and other indigenous trees in Northern Ghana by 2023.
Upfield’s shea sustainability initiative is in line with the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy and its Sustainable Sourcing Policy. The project will seek to create sustainable impact in the company’s shea supply chain under three key pillars: including ‘improving livelihoods’, ‘health and safety’ and ‘parkland restoration’. Upfield, producer of well-known brands such as Blue Band, Flora, Rama and Violife, announced the initiative as a strategic partnership with Ghanaian landscape restoration firm, Eco Restore.
Upfield will work with Eco Restore to implement sustainability principles in its West African shea sourcing supply chain by implementing environmental protection and regeneration measures. The initiative will seek to restore about 150 hectares of savannah parkland in the North East Region of Ghana, West Africa, through the planting and management of 6,000 trees.
Speaking on the project, Upfield’s Global Director of Sustainability & ESG, Sally Smith noted: “A significant piece of Upfield’s ESG strategy is to enhance the livelihoods of smallholders and plant-based entrepreneurs while preserving nature to ensure a better planet. This project will help communities maintain and improve their shea parklands, thereby supporting long-term food security, sustainable food systems and economic development”.
Managing Director-Upfield West Africa, Moses Bamidele Amao said: “Our approach with this initiative is to work collaboratively with our indigenous communities; not only to plant the trees but also to promote an appreciation and a culture of preserving shea parklands until it becomes the norm. This in turn creates a ripple-effect of sustainable practices in the communities where we source our food ingredients”.
Executive Director Eco Restore, Peter Lovett noted: “We are very happy to be partnering with Upfield on this very important sustainability project. As an organisation that values and is committed to parkland restoration in West Africa, we see this partnership as a win for the community, the long-term resilience of the shea ecosystem in Ghana, and the global customers of Upfield”.
Earlier in the year, Upfield became a member of the Global Shea Alliance and a registered sustainability partner. This means that in addition to the company’s Responsible Sourcing Policy and Human Rights Statement, Upfield’s position on shea will be directed by the sustainability guidelines and implementation criteria laid out by the Global Shea Alliance. The company’s newly launched project will feed into the alliance’s ‘Action for Shea Parklands’ initiative and ‘Shea More Love’ campaign, which are both aimed at promoting sustainable development of the global shea industry.
The next phase of Upfield’s Shea Sustainability project aims to create an enabling environment for the economic empowerment of hard-working Ghanaian women shea collectors and processors, through the creation of viable cooperatives, business and financial literacy training, market transparency and good business practices.