III. Food products


1. Brazil nuts
2. Pine nuts
3. Jujube fruits

4. Walnut
5. Chestnut
6. Ginkgo
7. Mushrooms
8. Bamboo shoots

9. Sago
10. Oil seeds
11. Salanganes' or birds' nests


1. Brazil nuts


1.1. Product description.
1.2. Collection

1.3. Production
1.4. Processing
1.5. Trade
1.6. Prices
1.7. Recommendations


1.1. Product description.


1.1.1. The tree


The Brazil nut or Castanheira tree (Bertholletia excelsa) is one of the most important economic plants of the Amazonia. The edible seeds of this species, along with the latex of Hevea braziliensis, are often cited as the most important products of extractive reserves in Amazonia. Brazil nuts are collected mostly during wet season and rubber is tapped during the dry season. The combination of these two forest products provides year-round income to the forest dwellers.

Brazil nuts are consumed raw, roasted, salted, in ice creams or as prepared confectionery items. They are an important ingredient in shelled nut mixtures. Their oil contents range from 65 to 70 percent. Nuts that are rejected for export could be pressed for oil, if a market was found.

1.1.1. The tree

Castanheira is a tall tree (30 to 50 m) with a large crown (about 40 m in diameter), dominating any site where it is found. Its timber is considered to be amongst the finest ones in Amazonia, as it has a straight grain, has a pleasing appearance and is very durable.

Large and aromatic flowers appear from October to December and the nuts mature 12 to 15 months thereafter. New crops start reaching the market in June/July. In natural stands the tree grows slowly and starts bearing fruits at the age of 20 years, reaching commercial production at the age of 24 years. In open areas it grows faster, bearing fruits in 8 years and reaching commercial production at about 12 years. Grafted trees reach commercial production between 7 and 8 years after planting.

Out of the total forest area of approximately 90 million hectares in the Amazon, Brazil nut trees are found over an area of approximately 20 million ha. Entire production of Brazil nuts is from naturally growing trees, although orchards of grafted Brazil nut trees are also being planted.

1.2. Collection

The nuts from wild Brazil nut trees are collected during five to six months of rainy season. The fruits weighing 0.5 to 5 kg and containing 10 to 25 seeds are gathered immediately after they fall, in order to minimize insect and fungal attack and to reduce the number of seeds carried away by animals (Mori and Prance, 1990). A tree may beer 63 to 216 fruits per season (Miller, 1990). Average production of raw nuts ranges between 24 to 36 kg per tree per season, but may be as high as 89 kg in some cases (LaFleur, 1992).

1.3. Production

On the basis of production estimates of 22 years (1970 to 1991), LaFleur (1992) estimated average annual production of Brazil nuts around 45,000 tonnes. The production, however, can expand easily, if demand expands, because much less than half the potential area under Brazil nut trees is currently being harvested. Inaccessible forests and limited access to the marketing chain are the main factors inhibiting maximum utilisation of the resource.

Transportation of Brazil nuts to the major cities of the Amazon, where processing is centralised, is a major component of cost of Brazil nut production. The processing plants are located in major urban centers, hundreds of kilometres from the collection centers. About 30% of the production is lost due to spoilage during transportation by rivers (LaFleur, 1992), thus increasing the cost of production, and indicating a need for decentralised processing, closer to the source.

Brazil dominates the world production and trade (80%), followed by Bolivia (18%) and Peru (10%). Small quantities are also produced in Chile.

1.4. Processing

The raw nuts are cleaned in the processing centres, where they are filled in vacuum-sealed aluminium bags, and packed in cardboard boxes. Processing yields, on average, are 63.64 % for in-shell nuts and 30.9 % for shelled nuts (LaFleur, 1992).

1.5. Trade

According to LaFleur (1992) the international trends in Brazil nuts trade are well established with universally defined specifications and quality requirements. The market is centred in two types of nuts, shelled and in-shell (raw). In-shelled nuts are sold for Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays in the USA and Europe. Shelled nuts are sold mainly to roasters to be packaged in mixed nut snacked items and some Brazil nuts are also used in chocolate products. Traditionally about 60% of the value of exported Brazil nuts have been shelled nuts. The USA is the world's largest importer of in-shelled Brazil nuts, and is second only to the UK in import of shelled nuts. Other importing countries are Germany, Canada and Australia. Almost all Brazil nuts are destined for international markets, domestic consumption being hardly 3% to 5% of the shipments.

1.6. Prices

The international prices of Brazil nuts are a function of world supply and demand. Current market price is US$ 1.2 per pound 1. LaFleur (1991) has reported that Brazil nut prices can rise or fall by an average of 21% within a single year and 13% in any three years' period. The producer countries' internal prices are directly related to the international prices. There is a differential of 1: 21 in the price paid to the collectors and the export price. Similarly, the price differential in the shelled and in-shell nuts is in the ratio of approximately 1: 2.4.

1 Edible Nut Market Report, June 1993.

1.7. Recommendations

A 12% tax is levied export of Brazil nuts from Brazil, which if curtailed, could cause increase in price paid to the nut collectors, increase in total export prices and environmental benefits intrinsic to nut gathering (LaFleur, 1992). Localised processing and decentralised shelling are recommended to add value locally to the product to the benefit of the collectors (Clay and Clement, 1993), and to reduce transportation costs.

2. Pine nuts


2.1. Chalghoza pine nuts
2.2. Pignolia nuts


Kernels of two pines, namely, 'chalghoza' pine (Pinus gerardiana) growing in Himalayas, and European stone pine (Pinus pinea) in mediterranean region enter international trade.

2.1. Chalghoza pine nuts


2.1.1. Product description
2.1.2. Collection
2.1.3. Production
2.1.4. Trade
2.1.5. Recommendations


2.1.1. Product description

Chalghoza pine kernels constitute a popular dry fruit in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and many Middle Eastern countries. The kernels have high food value. On an average, pine kernels contain 3.4% water, 14.6% protein and 61.9% fat, the rest being fibre, ash, carbohydrates and organic acids (Dogra, 1964). The kernels are used as a dessert and eaten raw or roasted and salted. They also find use in confectionery.

Chalghoza pine is a medium-sized tree, growing naturally at an elevation of 1800 to 3000 m in dry temperate forests of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The tree also yields construction timber. The tree starts bearing cones at the age of about 20 years. A tree, on an average, yields 7.4 kg of seeds, with an average of 30 to 36 seeds per cone (Iqbal, 1991a).

2.1.2. Collection

The cones are harvested in October, while still green, by wrenching them off the trees with the help of long poles with a hook attached to one end. The cones are then buried in the soil for about a fortnight till they are open. The seeds are then collected by striking the cones against a hard surface.

2.1.3. Production

Production varies from year to year, because of good seed production cycles, occurring every fifth year. Average production is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes per annum. Bulk of the production comes from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Small quantities are also produced in India.

2.1.4. Trade

The collectors transport raw nuts to the wholesale markets in the nearby main cities, from where traders from all over the country purchase through commission agents. Production from Afghanistan also channelises in Pakistani markets, for further export. The raw nuts are cleaned and roasted before final consumption or export. The nuts are always traded in-shell.

Pakistan exports, on an average, about 120 tonnes of pine nuts annually to a number of Middle Eastern countries. Export price (fob) ranges between Rs. 40,000 to 50,000 per tonne, whereas average wholesale price within Pakistan is Rs. 25,000 to 30,000 per tonne (1 US$ = Rs. 30).

2.1.5. Recommendations

There is a need to increase production and to ensure stable supply through selection of high yielding and early producing varieties. Grafting may be tried to obtain smaller trees with high production. In natural stands good seed years occur every fifth year, which disrupts market supply. This tendency may also be overcome through a breeding programme or rotation planting.

2.2. Pignolia nuts

Spain, where the Pinus pinea forests are spread over an area of 350,000 ha, is the major producer of pignolia nuts. Portugal is the second largest producer. The stands earmarked for seed production are thinned and treated for pine boring insect pests. Accordingly a small part of the total area is set aside for seed production and the rest is managed for timber production. Average production of in-shell seeds is estimated to be 40 kg/tree, which is reduced to 6-7 kg after shelling.

Production varies greatly, ranging 5,000 to 11,000 tonnes in Spain (FAO/ECE, 1988b). These are, however, 1987 estimates, the latest estimates could not be collected. It is also not clear if the estimates were for shelled or in-shell seeds. About 10% to 20% of the total production is exported. Demand for this product is growing, and transforming the stands to seed production and integration with livestock production offers high prospects (FAO/ECE, 1988b).

Portugal is the second largest producer of the pine seeds, producing about 1,400 tonnes of shelled (in-shell equivalent of 8,400 tonnes) pine seeds. In 1987, Portugal exported 1,657 tonnes of pine seeds, both with and without shell, valuing about US; 4 million. Latest export figures, however, could not be collected.

3. Jujube fruits

Drupaceous fruits of Zizyphus species growing in forests and farmlands in many Afro-Asian countries, are collected and consumed by local communities. Extra supplies are sun-dried and stored for future consumption. The fruits are also sold, dry or fresh, to supplement their incomes. China is the only country known to be exporting jujube fruits.

In China the tree grows over an extensive area of 240,000 ha. Annual output of fresh jujube is 400,000 tonnes. China exports about 4,700 tonnes of dry jujube, earning a foreign exchange of 5 million US$ annually (Kunshan, 1991). No further information on its trade is, however, available.

4. Walnut

Extensive treatment could not be given to this product, primarily due to time constraint. The fruits, however, are important non-wood forest products in countries like China, India and Pakistan. China produces 100,000 tonnes of walnut annually from an area of 1 million ha. The annual exports of walnut from China are estimated to be 47,000 tonnes, valuing 30 to 50 US$ (Kunshan, 1991). Current export prices (c & f) of Indian and Chinese walnut (shelled) range between 2,500 to 3,000 per tonne .

The Public Ledger's Commodity Week (July 3 1993).

5. Chestnut

Chestnut (Castanea spp.) grows over an area of 300,000 ha in China, with an annual production of 33,000 tonnes, accounting for one-tenth of world total. China exports 25,000 tonnes of chestnut annually, mostly to Japan, earning foreign exchange of about 50 million US$.

Chestnut tree (C. saliva) grows over an area of 160,000 ha in Spain, yielding 12,000 to 40,000 tonnes of chestnuts. No further information could be collected on this product, about 15%-20% of the production is not picked, which falls on ground where it is consumed by domestic livestock or game animals (FAO/ECE, 1988b).

6. Ginkgo

Gingko biloba is a 'living fossil' tree, belonging to Pteridophyta. It is native to China, where its fruits are collected and consumed as a food and a medicine. The fruits are rich in starch, fat, protein and a variety of vitamins. Total annual production is estimated at 5,000 tonnes, most of which is exported at a value of about 7 million US dollars (Kunshan, 1991). It is interesting to note that a product from Gingko biloba is the most widely used of all medicines in Germany, accounting in 1989, for over 5 million prescriptions, many for treatment of tinnitus (Lewington, 1993). This illustrates arbitrary nature of classification of NWFP. Whereas in its country of origin, ginkgo has been classified as a food product by Kunshan (1991), its major use abroad is in medicine.

7. Mushrooms


7.1. Morels
7.2. Truffles

7.3. Pine mushrooms


A wide variety of mushrooms are collected from natural forests and consumed locally. Some of them are also traded in local markets as an additional source of income. For example, considerable quantity of a very valuable mushroom (possibly Lentinus edodes) is collected from the forests in North Vietnam and sold after drying @ 25,000 to 45,000 Dong/kg dry weight (mid-1991 price: US$ 1 = 2.5 Dong) (de Beer, 1993).

Morels, truffles and pine mushrooms are important NWFP from international trade point of view and have, therefore, been discussed over here.

7.1. Morels


7.1.1. Product description
7.1.2. Production

7.1.3. Collection
7.1.4. Trade
7.1.5. Prices
7.1.6. Prospects


7.1.1. Product description

The black mushroom or morels of commerce, belong to genus Morchella, of the class Ascomycete, and comprising of about a dozen species, of which M. esculenta, M. conica and M. angusticipt are of considerable economic importance. The morels are prized for culinary uses, particularly as a gourmet food. They are used in gravies sauces and soups. Morels are not only delicious, but also very healthy food. They contain 42 per cent high quality protein on dry weight basis, which is quite high as compared to other edible plant products. Morels are low in calories and rich in minerals. The morels appear in spring immediately after snow melt and are best recognised by their fleshy consistency of the pitted head on a stalk. Though they rate among the best of all the edible fungi, until now they have not been grown commercially with success.

7.1.2. Production

Morels grow naturally in temperate forests of many European countries, the USA, Canada, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Turkey, Nepal, and Bhutan. Total world production is estimated to be approximately 150 tonnes. Pakistan and India are the main producing countries, each producing about 50 tonnes of dry morels annually (equivalent to fresh morels of 500 tonnes), all of which is exported.

7.1.3. Collection

In Pakistan, during collection season, there is a race among the men, women and children to hand-pick as much of the mushrooms as possible. They are sold fresh or dried to the local shopkeepers, who dry them within 2-3 days by sewing them in threads and hanging them in shade. No further processing is involved till they reach the wholesalers/exporters after passing through the hands of 2 to 3 middle men. The exporters de-stalk, grade, pack and sometimes fumigate them before shipment. There is no local consumption and whatever is collected is exported. Even by-products including tails and dust separated during grading are also shipped abroad (Iqbal, 1991).

7.1.4. Trade

The international trade in fresh morels is limited due to short life of the product. However, short distances between the producing countries and the market make trade in fresh morels possible, between Turkey and Switzerland and EEC countries, and also between Sweden and France.

France, Switzerland and Germany are the main importers of dried morels from India and Pakistan. According to unpublished records of ITC, the imports of dried morels to EEC countries and Switzerland range between 100 to 120 tonnes per annum.

Imports are subject to phyto-sanitary regulations as elaborated in the CODEX world wide standard for dried edible fungi (CODEX STAN 39 - 1981).

Imports are handled by specialized importers/agents. The dealers/wholesalers purchase the product through importers/agents and, in return, sell it to retailers/end-users (restaurants). Some importers sell dried morels in plastic bags (20 gm) direct to supermarkets.

7.1.5. Prices

Morels command very high prices. In Pakistan price of the morels has constantly been rising from Rs. 80 per kg of dried mushrooms in 1962 to the current level (fob) of Rs. 3,500 to 4,000 per kg (1 US$ = Rs 30). The collectors, however, get one-half to two-thirds of the export price (Iqbal, 1991).

7.1.6. Prospects

The morels market is mainly driven by two factors. First, the supply is limited, because it cannot be grown under controlled conditions, and second, the demand for fine oriental cuisines is increasing among the gourmets in western countries, due to rising standards of living. There is big morel market in France, Germany and Switzerland, and it has increased during the last 10 years. Some of the morels imported by these countries are re-exported to USA, after grading, cleaning and repacking according to US standards. The profit margin for the importers and re-exporters is reported to be very high (Shah, 1991).

If steps could be taken to improve the process and deliver the product in a cleaner state to the exporters, it would fetch higher price and profit margin to the collectors could also increase. Processes like cleaning, grading and packing are much cheaper in developing than in developed countries, provided the quality standards fixed by the USDA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) could be ensured.

The main problems faced by the collectors is in the area of collection. Due to the high prices, there is a race among the forest dwellers to collect morels as soon as they-appear, which affects the quality of maturation. Secondly, no efforts have been made to improve unhygienic methods of drying and storing the morels. This requires a programme for educating the collectors in collection, drying, grading and storage techniques. The collectors, because of their ignorance, often do not get reasonable price for their product and the middlemen tend to exploit them. This necessitates better market information system.

Research input is required to develop methods to cultivate morels within forest areas as a horticultural crops, in order to widen the supply base. Long-term research input is also required to understand taxonomy, physiology and ecology of morels in an attempt to develop methods to grow them in artificial media at a commercial level.

Research efforts on artificial cultivation of morels continues, but according to sources at British Horticultural

Research International, it will take a long time before industrial cultivation of black mushrooms becomes feasible.

7.2. Truffles

Like morels, truffles are also highly relished by gourmets in various European countries and USA. Truffles flourish in open woodlands on calcareous soils. They are subterranean fruiting bodies of mycorrhizal fungi living symbiotically with roots of higher plants. Truffles grow up to a foot beneath the ground attached to the roots of oak and hazel trees. Traditional truffle hunters use trained dogs or pigs.

There are three main types of truffles found in Europe. White winter truffle, Tuber magnatum, in season from October to December and by far the most expensive costing up to £ 1500 a kilo; black winter truffle, T. melanosporum in season from December to March and a little cheaper; and black summer truffle, T. aestivum, in season from May to September and the most economically priced .

Eurofruit, November 1990.

France and Italy are the main producers. Whereas production in France was around 1,000 tonnes 95 years ago, it had fallen down to 20 tonnes in 19884. In Spain, about 15 to 30 tonnes of truffles are collected each year, of which the bulk is exported to France (FAO/ECE, 1988b). Truffles are exported in fresh as well as preserved form. In 1989, the USA imported 5.4 tonnes of fresh or chilled truffles, mainly from Italy and France, valuing US$ 1.477 million (c & f) or US$ 273 per kg 5. No further information could be collected.

4 Financial Times, June 30 1988.

5 The USA Import Statistics, 1989.

The truffles might be growing naturally in temperate forests in some of the developing countries, but local people may not be collecting them due to ignorance. There is, therefore, a need to explore possibilities of collection of this valuable commodity in all of its potential habitats. Cultivation of truffles can also be integrated with afforestation programmes, and a start has already been made in this direction in New Zealand.

7.3. Pine mushrooms

The pine mushrooms (Boletus luteus) grow spontaneously under plantations of Pinus radiate in USA, Europe and South America. The first specimens appear in the fourth year after planting and reach their peak production in the seventh year. The yield then continues at a more or less constant level till the 15th year, when the dense foliage prevents penetration of sufficient sunlight. The mushrooms are gathered by the local inhabitants, dried in the sun to reduce the moisture contents to about 35%, and then sold to exporters.

It is a highly nutritious mushroom and its exports have been rising in sliced, dehydrated or preserved form. Chile exported 943 tonnes of the mushroom in 1981, valued at US$ 2,031,863 (fob) 6. The main overseas markets were USA, France, Peru and to a lesser extent Holland, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Italy and a few others. Latest information on export could not be collected.

6 Chilean Forestry News, June 1982.

8. Bamboo shoots

Bamboo shoots represent an expanding and fashionable export market, valued annually at over 20 million US$ from Taiwan alone. Shoot production varies with species and locality. In China, shoot production of Phyllostachys pubescens may range from 18 to 30 percent of the total volume, compared with 8 to 15 percent from Dendrocalamus asper plantations in Thailand.

Shoot harvesting begins in May till October (rainy season). Shoots can be collected from the clumps daily or twice a week. After harvesting leaf sheaths and oral setae are removed and the shoots boiled in hot water, dried or fermented, depending on the required product. Before packing they are cut into required size and length.

In China, tender shoots of about 100 species are edible. Their production averages one million tonnes annually (Sulthoni, 1989).

Thailand exported 31,730 tonnes of canned bamboo shoots during 1989, valued at 460.62 million bahts 7. Bulk of the exports went to USA and Japan followed by United Kingdom, F.R. Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, France and Republic of Korea. Japan is the main market for bamboo shoots in Asia. Small quantities of bamboo shoots are also exported from Indonesia.

7 Thailand Foreign Agriculture Trade Statistics, Office of Agriculture Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, Bangkok.

9. Sago

Sago (Metroxylon spp.) is a fresh water palm, which grows naturally over a wide range, extending from Thailand in the West to Santa Cruz Islands in the East and from Mindanao (Philippines) in the North to Timor (Indonesia) in the South (Menon, 1989). It is also widely cultivated.

Sago tree is harvested at an age of 10-15 years, but before flowering, as it dies immediately after flowering. The stem is cross-cut into sections of 0.6 to 1 meter lengths, which are then peeled to extract the starch-containing pith - a process known as 'rasping'. Rasped sago is put in a container, water sprayed, hand squeezed, and sieved. The starch precipitates after 1-2 days.

Sago is rich in starch and is used mainly as food. It is a promising raw material for use in textile, paper and plywood industries. In production of energy sago is potentially important for conversion into ethnol. Sago waste can also be used as a medium for mushroom cultivation (Menon, 1989a).

Indonesia and Malaysia are the two major producing countries. Indonesia produced 47,206 tonnes of sago flour in 1984 (Menon, 1989a). Latest information on Indonesian production could not be collected. During 1991, Indonesia exported 10,107.7 tonnes of sago flour and meal to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, valuing US$ 2.32 million (fob), at an average price of US$ 230 per tonne.

Malaysia, is one of the countries that produces good quality sago, and exports nearly all of its production. Its production, however, is quite limited. During 1991, for example, it exported only 3 tonnes to Brunei Darussalam.

Indonesian government is taking steps to encourage cultivation and to improve processing of sago palm, in order to boost its export. Existing methods of sago extraction are crude, wasteful and yield poor quality starch. Menon (1989a) has suggested a number of steps to improve production of sago in Indonesia, including silvicultural research, inventory management and harvesting techniques.

10. Oil seeds


10.1. Sheanuts or karite nuts
10.2. Tengkawang or Illipe nut


A number of edible oil yielding trees are known, particularly in tropics. Commercially important ones are Aleurites species yielding tung oil, some Shorea species from which tengkawang oil is extracted, some Madhuca species which provide Wahua oil, Garcinia indica from which kokain butter is extracted, and nuts of sheanut tree yield sheanut butter.

10.1. Sheanuts or karite nuts


10.1.1. Product description
10.1.2. Uses
10.1.3. Production
10.1.4. Collection and trade
10.1.5. Prospects and constraints


10.1.1. Product description

The sheanut tree grows naturally in wooded savannah regions throughout West Africa. The tree grows only in wild. Attempts to cultivate them have so far been unsuccessful. Sheanut trees are protected by local populations who sometimes believe that the tree has mystical and beneficial properties. Its average life span is 300 years and produces first crop of fruits at the age of 25, reaching full production between the age of 45 and 50 years The fruits are ready for harvesting from August to September.

The fruits are edible comprising of 55% pulp, and represent an important source of food for local populations. The kernel contains 41.6% to 48.6% fat, which gives them their market value (Pesquet, 1992). Four kilos of kernels must be crushed to produce 1 kg of sheanut butter. Annual production of a sheanut tree is 15 to 20 kg of fresh fruit, yielding 3 to 4 kg of kernels.

10.1.2. Uses

Sheanuts' most important use is in foods. The pulp is eaten fresh. Butter extracted from its seeds is another important product. It is used for frying and for making sauces. It is also widely used to make skin creams. Sheanuts also play a very important role in traditional medicine. In the rest of the world and especially in the USA, Europe and Asia sheanut butter is almost entirely used in manufacturing food items like chocolate, candies, margarine and bakery products, with only 3% to 5% of imports being used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Sheanut butter is a very good substitute of cocoa butter, as their physical and chemical properties are very similar.

10.1.3. Production

Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea and Central African Republic are the main producing countries. Small quantities are also produced in Indonesia. During 1950, production capacity was estimated at approximately 2,053,000 tonnes per year, but current production may be around 250,000 tonnes annually (Pesquet, 1992).

10.1.4. Collection and trade

The following resume of trade in sheanuts has been adapted from Pesquet (1992). The fruits are collected by women. The nuts are roasted or dried in the sun. Then pound and mixed for hours to extract the oil, part of which is used for family consumption and the rest is sold for cash.

The nuts collected by women are purchased by local buyers, who sell them to the traders. Traders are normally assisted by collectors in collection and delivery of the product. The traders and collectors must be licensed in countries where marketing boards exist, acting as intermediaries between the boards and the collectors, and are bound to supply the product to the boards at prefixed prices. In countries with free export systems the traders deal directly with the exporters and pay a fee to the government. This forces the trader to assume more responsibility, because he must bear the risk.

In importing countries the imports are affected through brokers and traders, who import and sell the product to industrial manufacturers/processors. The allowable percentage of sheanut butter for chocolate fillings varies according to the country. In the EEC, only three countries have been allowed to use up to 5% coca butter substitutes: the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. The other EEC countries follow the norms set by the commission and do not use any cocoa butter substitutes at all. East Germany was one of the largest importer of sheanut butter, though now it follows EEC standards and this important market has ceased after unification.

American standards allow up to 5% vegetable fat in chocolate filling. Chocolate sold in Japan can contain 5% to 8% vegetable fats. In Eastern Europe, some chocolate contains up to 15% vegetable fats.

Regulations similar to the import of oilseed products are also applicable to sheanut butter sector.

Total volume of the trade could not be assessed, because the product is grouped with other oil yielding nuts. Average price (fob) for Indonesian sheanuts was US$ 3,000 per tonne in 1989.

10.1.5. Prospects and constraints

Sheanut butter is used mostly as a substitute to cocoa butter and is generally available at a lower price than cocoa butter. However, the steady drop in cocoa prices since 1986 has made cocoa butter more and more competitive. Moreover, the uncertainty of supply and problems of quality have driven manufacturers to actively seek other vegetable substitutes where supply is more reliable. These include palm oil, palm kernel oil and illipe oil. Reunification of the former East Germany has also given a setback to sheanut butter market.

Sheanut production could perhaps, be redirected to diet food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector. Sheanut butter is a light vegetable fat and its qualities make it suitable for healthy, low-calory cooking. Sheanut butter's dermatological and pharmacological properties are well recognised, particularly due to the presence of high proportion (up to 17%) of unsaponifiable compounds in it. It acts as a moisturiser, softener, and skin protector. These potential outlets, if properly approached, can provide a positive reorientation of sheanut butter market (Pesquet, 1992).

Research input to develop cultivation techniques and to select high oil yielding varieties of sheanut trees will help in uplift of the local economies.