The growth of the plant-based food sector is driving sales of shea butter, according to global speciality oil supplier Kerfoot.

Worth US$17M in 2020, more than 1M people in the UK started 2020 with a plant-based diet, according to a Plant Based News report on 8 January.

Meanwhile, a 2020 report by Fior Markets forecast the global vegan butter market would grow to $US1.77bn by 2026.

For shea butter, the worldwide market was expected to be worth $US2.9bn by 2025, with Europe’s share at 25% and the Global Shea Alliance saying that around 90% of shea butter was processed by the food industry,, according to a report by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI).

The growth of veganism had led to the growth of new plant-based products and the development of dairy alternatives to replace food derived from animal milk, Kerfoot said.

“Consumers want vegan butters that taste nice but are also organic, ethically produced and sustainably packaged. Shea butter ticks all the right boxes,” Kerfoot Group sales and marketing director Simon Corner said.

Shea butter was a healthy alternative to cocoa butter, which was currently experiencing a natural shortage, Corner said, and was also a popular ingredient in baking and in ice-cream and new confectionery products.

Extracted from the nut of the African shea tree, shea butter is rich in Vitamins A, D, E, and K and is high in oleic, stearic, linoleic and palmitic acids, according to The African Gourmet.

A global supplier of bulk and packed, refined and speciality oils, Kerfoot is part of the Avril Group, a French agro-industrial company.