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African Shea Butter Properties Related to Common Extraction Technologies: A Review


Shea butter is an important lipid material for food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. Most of the shea butter consumed in the world comes from Africa. The extraction protocol is not standardized among all regions of production. It can be done using either traditional or improved (semi-mechanical) processes. The quality of shea butter and its composition depend on multiple factors such as the edaphic parameters, morphology and harvesting method of the fruits, and treatment applied to fruits, nuts, and kernels, respectively. In this paper, all traditional and improved extraction processes reported, including the enormous possible variants, were reviewed and summarized. Several optimal conditions have been defined for both the traditional and the modern processes. Nevertheless, we are far from process harmonization, and therefore from the best conditions of shea butter processing. The screw press extraction was the most widely used among the modern processes due to its yield of butter extraction of about 82%. Microwave-assisted extraction gave the highest butter yield, 88%, and traditional shea butter extraction was about 20–35%.

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Cocoa butter


Cocoa butter equivalent




Fatty acid


Free fatty acids


Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

ICCO Cooperation:

Stichting Interkerkelijke Organisatie voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking


Iodine value






Norme sur le beurre de karité non raffiné






Peroxide value




Shea butter


Stearic-oleic-stearic triacylglycerols


Satured-satured-satured triacylglycerols


Saturated-unsaturated–saturated triacylglycerols


Satured-unsatured-unsatured triacylglycerols




Testometric Universal Testing Machine


Universal testing machine




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Authors would like to thank Université de Liège (Science des Aliments et Formulation, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech and Laboratoire de Chimie Analytique Pharmaceutique, CIRM), Académie de Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur–Commission de la Coopération au Développement (ARES-CCD) as technical and financial partner, and the postdoctoral fellowships and funding from ULiège University Research Council —STEMA funding OTP N° DIVE.0899-J-P conceded to Dr. da Silva, T.L.T.

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Correspondence to Bertrand W. F. Goumbri.

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The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work. Author Bertrand W. F. Goumbri has received research support from ARES-CCD. No financial interests for all other authors. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article. All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript. The authors have no financial or proprietary interests in any material discussed in this article.

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Goumbri, B.W.F., da Silva, T.L.T., Marini, R.D. et al. African Shea Butter Properties Related to Common Extraction Technologies: A Review. Food Bioprocess Technol (2021).

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  • Shea butter
  • Extraction process
  • Traditional extraction
  • Semi-mechanical extraction