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Trinity College Dublin

Sustainable Supply Chains

Jane Stout

Many raw ingredients used in the manufacture of food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products derive from plant-based materials. Global trade of these ingredients affects both the livelihoods of the producers, manufacturers and consumers. As does reduced or unsustainable supply.

We are working with both on the ground producers, as well as manufacturers, ensure sustainability of supply chains.
For example, shea butter, derived from the fruit of the shea tree in sub-Saharan Africa, is an important cosmetic, confectionary and pharmaceutical ingredient.

“Shea trees and the habitat in which they grow need to be sustainably managed in order to ensure fruit production.”

Degraded habitats, which do not support vital pollinating bees, may see sharp declines in fruit set.
We are determining the local and landscape factors that affect the provision of pollination services by
bees in order to inform local communities on best management practices to ensure maximum supply of shea butter.

Key discoveries to date:

  • Shea is heavily dependent on bees for pollination
  • There is insufficient pollination to ensure maximum yield in many sites
  • Conservation of habitat to support native bees is urgently required