Updated: Apr 1, 2020
It’s easy to look out over a seemingly endless field of Aloe at one of Forever’s plantations and wonder how the company has managed to plant, grow and harvest its Aloe Vera leaves using the same method for more than 40 years - every plant carefully nurtured and hand harvested.
It might be easier and more profitable to use automated machinery to harvest plants faster and rely less on the human touch. But this shortcut disguised as progress comes at a real cost. It smashes and destroys more of the plant, causing environmental damage and an unremarkable finished product.
There’s something to be said for staying true to your roots without being left behind by a constantly progressing world. In four decades, Forever Living has grown to become the most important producer of Aloe Vera products in the world by operating with just the right balance of tradition and innovation.
A tradition worth keeping
When Rex Maughan founded Forever Living Products, he wanted to build more than a company. He wanted to build the kinds of bonds that transcend language or borders and bring people together through the shared interest of doing things the right way.
At Forever’s Aloe plantations, doing things the right way means doing it by hand. The men and women who harvest the Aloe Vera leaves are up with the sun, carefully hand-selecting those leaves that have reached peak maturity and nutrient content.
There’s just no substitute for human touch when it comes to choosing the perfect leaves. The people who know best when it’s time to harvest are those who plant, nurture and tend to the crop, season after season. They examine the color of the leaf, the size and the way it feels in their hand to determine which leaves are ready to be harvested and which ones need a little more time.
The mature outer leaves are carefully sliced from the plant, allowing the inside leaves to continue to grow. It takes about a year for the leaf to hit peak and a single plant can continue producing leaves for many years when it’s properly cared for. Once the leaves are harvested, they are loaded onto a trailer for the first round of processing onsite.
The people who est when it's time to harvest are those who plant, nurture and tend to the crop, season after season.
Innovation in action
As soon as an Aloe leaf is cut from the plant, time plays a critical role in ensuring Aloe maintains its high nutritional content throughout processing and production. After harvest, the next stop is an onsite facility where each leaf is hand-filleted to extract the maximum amount of pure inner-leaf gel. The filleting is done in smooth, fluid strokes that require a combination of speed and precision.
After the gel is inspected, it undergoes aseptic processing, which uses a flash heating method to lock in the benefits and freshness of inner leaf Aloe Vera while safely reducing bad bacteria and eliminating the need to add preservatives.
This process has been shown to retain 300% more of Aloe’s natural vitamin content. To ensure that the highest levels of nutrition are maintained, Forever’s Aloe is always processed within six hours of harvest.
This has been the best work experience I've ever had, I expect to work here for a long, long time.
The people who make it happen
Investing in the right process doesn’t work unless you also invest in the right people. That’s why Forever pays employees in the Dominican Republic 40 to 50% higher wages than other companies in the same region. The employees who work in the fields and processing facilities know the quality of work they put in every day is essential in creating the Forever products that people all over the world depend on.
Miguel Silverio and Alejandro Rodriguez have a combined 18 years of experience working in the Aloe fields. Both have gained invaluable knowledge by personally tending to the crops year after year. Their longevity with the company is a result of the pride they have in their work and knowing they are such an important part of the Forever family.
“I love to belong to this group of wonderful people,” Miguel says.
Rafaelina Taveras is also proud to call herself part of that family. For 16 years, this mother of three has worked as a quality assurance specialist, making sure the Aloe harvested is pure, fresh and high in nutrients.
“Typically, I take samples of every batch we process and test for pH and microbiology,” Rafaelina says. “This assures we always provide a great product.” Warehouse assistant Ruddy Reyes takes pride in knowing that his role of keeping supplies in stock and organized ensures everyone has the tools they need to do their job. He’s been part of the Forever family for 16 years and is raising two children.
“This has been the best work experience I’ve ever had,” Ruddy says. “I expect to work here for a long, long time.”
At every point in the process, you’ll find the stories of people who’ve spent years working at Forever and remain invested in the quality and purity of every product. To them, it’s more than a job. They are passionate about the connection they have to the plants, to each other and to the products that provide opportunity to so many people from all over the world.
FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY
Forever’s commitment to the environment is apparent at every stage of production
• The use of solar powered pumps and drip watering systems have enabled Forever to reduce water usage by 90 percent.
• Water is reclaimed for use in the fields while the rinds of the Aloe leaves are tilled back into the soil to fertilize the crops.
• Forever’s 50 million plants help cleanse the earth of hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 every year.
• Forever’s flagship Aloe Vera gel drinks are packaged using 100% recyclable Tetra Pak containers. This packaging is always shipped flat, allowing more to be transported at one time, greatly reducing Forever’s carbon footprint.