When Herbalife sought out the highest quality aloe for Herbal Aloe Concentrate and other products, it turned to Mexico-based ImproVera. Since 1994, ImproVera has been producing aloe vera in Jaumave municipality in East Central Mexico where ideal weather conditions and unique soil composition make for ideal growing conditions. As of 2014, ImproVera supplies the lion’s share of aloe products to Herbalife. We recently sat down with Vicente Mack, General Manager Mexico Aloe Operations at ImproVera, to talk about aloe production. The following is an edited version of the transcript.
What is your role at ImproVera? What is your working relationship with Herbalife?
I am responsible for the operations of ImproVera Mexico, as well as guiding new projects to improve processes and operations of aloe vera production. Herbalife has specific requirements with a focus on nutrition. As a result, we have developed new processes to improve the quality of aloe that goes into Herbalife products. We have great synergy working with the Herbalife research and development team and the final product reflects that.
How and when did ImproVera get started?
ImproVera got its start 20 years ago working with aloe producers in Jaumave, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Located in the UNESCO “El Cielo” Biosphere Reserve, Juamave produces some of the best aloe in the world. The region produces aloe with the ideal levels of polysaccharides and minerals. It’s a zone under the Tropic of Cancer and was under the sea for millions of years. It’s the main reason why the soil is so rich in minerals.
What are the benefits of growing aloe vera?
Mexico is the biggest producer and market for aloe in the world. Every family in Mexico has an aloe plant in their backyard and it’s a tradition passed from generation to generation. Cultivating aloe in this zone is really easy. It grows by itself and here, the plant can develop with the most beneficial properties. Also, aloe production provides stable jobs for many families in the area. Aloe is produced all year long and requires care all year long as well.
When did ImproVera start working with Herbalife?
In 2009, Herbalife executives were visiting growers while searching for the best available aloe. They visited Jaumave and ImproVera. The main purpose for their visit was to research the operation and development of the different fields. They viewed the plantations, tasted the aloe and studied the leaves to make sure it was what they were looking for. ImproVera met Herbalife requirements and became their sole aloe provider. Today, we supply aloe to Herbalife in different locations, including the USA, Central America, South America, India and Asia. Herbalife now makes it convenient to use aloe “from the farm to bottle.”
How do you process aloe vera? What forms of aloe vera do you provide to Herbalife?
Herbalife buys aloe juice from ImproVera. To produce aloe juice, the planting and harvesting are done by hand. The process of producing aloe juice, from cutting the leaves to the actual juicing, takes about 12 hours. When the juice is ready, it’s checked for quality before being exported to our distribution centers around the world.
How much aloe does Herbalife purchase from ImproVera?
Jaumave Valley has approximately 2,700 square kilometers where Maguey, walnut trees and aloe vera are planted. The aloe production takes most of the land and Herbalife is the largest consumer in the area. ImproVera is there to supply the best aloe to Herbalife. It personalizes attention to our aloe and ensures we have a product that meets the highest standard.
How is the aloe vera market changing? How fast is it growing?
The overall growth is happening fast. Years ago, Herbalife had only one flavor, now it has multiple flavors. The aloe business is growing because the Herbalife business is growing. Herbalife is putting aloe in a variety of different products and it’s been launched in multiple countries.
How do you see your partnership with Herbalife evolving?
ImproVera and Herbalife have a long-term agreement. This allows us the opportunity to expand and grow, and gives Herbalife a high quality supply chain they can count on. The aloe plants and juice are all organic, kosher, halal, and certified by the International Aloe Science Council (I.A.S.C.). This affirms that the aloe juice produced meets the highest quality standards required by Herbalife.
In what ways is ImproVera socially and environmentally consciousness?
By having a long term contract, the jobs we provide in the region are long term. With new processes in place, we recently reduced our CO2 footprint by 50 percent. Our soil remains organic with no pesticides or fungicides. All aloe vera residues left behind from processing are put back on the field to make compost for fertilizer. We are also using new, state-of-the-art equipment in our production operation, saving approximately 25,000 liters of water daily.