Global aloe market estimated at $13 billion

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Improve USA
Photo: Improve USA
The global market for aloe vera products is estimated to have reached $13 billion, according to information presented at a recent workshop held by the International Aloe Science Council.

The 2012 International Aloe Summit took place on Friday, Nov. 9 in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Supply Side West trade show,  and looked at regulatory aspects of the ingredient, market considerations, recent science and testing concerns. It’s the first such meeting, according to IASC executive director Devon Powell.

 But the answer to the question that every seems to be asking was held until after lunch, when Powell presented the IASC Tonnage Survey, giving a picture of the size of the actual market.  It’s a question that even companies with deep connections in the marketplace seem to be asking, Powell said.  The question, of course, is just how much of this stuff is actually being sold?

“People are curious about the aloe vera market in a way that’s different.  I don’t recall people asking that question for other ingredient markets,”​ said Powell, who is also the COO of the American Herbal Products Association.

“I don’t have companies calling and saying what’s the (size of the) saw palmetto market.  But for aloe, people want to know.  

“It’s a measurement of how important and, on some levels, how mysterious the ingredient is,”​ Powell said.

Compilation of data yields guesstimates

Powell emphasized the numbers presented is his talk could at best be considered guesstimates.  He gathered information via surveys of the group’s members, and assembled data from sources such as market research firm SPINS, reports from Nutrition Business Journal​ and other sources.  He was attempting to come up with a number for aloe that would function similarly to the Gross Domestic Product;  i.e. the value of aloe on the supply side of the equation as well as the sales of dietary supplements, personal care products and functional foods and beverages containing aloe.

Powell also made some assumptions and applied some calculations to the raw data to come up with his final numbers.  For example of the $250 billion worth of personal care products sold within in his time frame, he estimated that 2% of these contained aloe vera as an ingredient.  A similar metric yielded a $2.4 billion number for the sales of dietary supplements containing aloe.

“My sense is that functional foods and beverages is the hot place,”​ Powell said.

Quality control concerns

Powell emphasized that quality control of the ingredient from farm field to delivered product is of utmost importance.  The companies represented in the room and who are members of the IASC aren’t the problem, he said.  But there are a lot of players in the market some of whom are selling products (especially juices) that have little or no aloe in them.

“This is the whole ball of wax as far as an herbal product is concerned.  You need to have batch-to-batch reproducibility if you want to say that clinical trials results apply to your product,”​ he said.

Roy Upton, executive director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia echoed those sentiments,  Upton, who gave a talk on the almost-completed aloe monograph​ that the AHP has developed in conjunction with IASC, wondered how much of the aloe on the market is what it says it is.  Results that come back from analytical labs show that a number of “aloe” products  on the market contain little (in some cases, none) of the actual plant.

“When you are looking what percentage of the market might be selling adulterated product . . .  I’m wiling to bet that much of the aloe products coming out of Asia are being made with ​aloe chinensis,”​ he said.

“Is the market sustainable for true aloe vera?”

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