African Traditional Crops in European Market

The continent of Africa is a rich source of natural ingredients, many with unique nutritional features. These natural ingredients are now being used more and more in natural health products in Europe.

Shea and Argan are some of African traditional crops that are already well established in the European market. Shea Butter is produced from shea kernel nuts, collected from the shea tree. The trees are found in the dry savanna belt of West and South Africa, and grow in the wild in 19 African countries.

Traditional crops such as baobab, moringa and marula are also becoming popular because of their high nutrient content. The Baobab tree is one of Africa’s most iconic and remarkable trees. It can survive long periods of no rainfall in the driest, hottest conditions by living off large reserves of water stored in its trunk. The trees grow fruit even in years with less rainfall. Baobab Powder is rich in vitamin C, calcium, fibre, protein and potassium.

Moringa is also nutrient-rich. Moringa powder comes from naturally dried leaves from the moringa tree. It has high protein content and is rich in iron, vitamins K & E, and antioxidants.

The Marula tree has also gained a prime position in the beauty industry. The tree is drought resistant and grows across southern Africa.

These three ingredients have gained popularity in the beauty market due to their anti-ageing properties. The increase in demand of these ingredients provides a great opportunity for small farmers.

All across sub-Saharan Africa rural communities, and especially women, are harvesting natural products for income generation purposes. For example in many countries, Baobab, Shea and Marula fruits are collected, typically by women, and then brought to facilities where they are processed.

Through SAWA´s partners and cooperative leaders, we have ensured that the harvesters and collectors behind our ingredients are organised in cooperatives. This ensures that farmers are better positioned to negotiate prices for their products. For example, in South Africa and Zimbabwe, we work with partners, who guarantee harvesters with a minimum price. It provides them with safety net to shield them from any downward fluctuations in “normal” market prices which may occasionally fall below the minimum price. Upon selling their product the fruit collectors also receive additional premium funds..