How vertical integration keeps Forever on the forefront of quality and technology.
When Forever Living Products was founded in 1978, Founder and CEO Rex Maughan wanted to bring the highest quality aloe vera products to the market and change the way people see and use aloe in their daily lives.
He knew he could source aloe vera from outside growers to manufacture products, but that would make it hard to maintain the quality and consistency needed to ensure customers were getting pure, inner leaf aloe vera. That’s one of the reasons Rex made the decision to purchase the land and grow all the aloe vera Forever would use in its products. Doing this ensured that every leaf would be hand-harvested and hand filleted, to extract only pure, inner leaf aloe vera gel at the peak of ripeness.
That decision set Forever on the course toward vertical integration. Soon, Forever would own its manufacturing facilities, research and development, quality control laboratories and even the distribution channels used to get products to customers all over the world. Being vertically integrated essentially means a company controls and owns its own supply chain and manufacturing. This business model has allowed Forever to maintain the highest quality control standards, from the moment a plant is put in the ground until the final product reaches customers.
Here’s a closer look at how it works at Forever
Forever owns aloe fields in Texas and the Dominican Republic. This is where more than 50 million aloe plants are grown and cultivated. Every plant is nurtured until the aloe is at the peak of leaf thickness and nutrient content. Then the ripe outer leaves are carefully harvested by hand, letting the inner leaves continue to grow.
The leaves are then inspected, hand-filleted and the inner leaf gel is freshness wrapped for shipment to Forever’s manufacturing facility, Aloe Vera of America in Dallas, Texas. This is where aloe is combined with other natural and scientifically advanced ingredients to create many of Forever’s products. Forever’s dietary supplements are produced at Forever Nutraceutical in Tempe, Arizona. This state-of-the-art facility uses pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing equipment and technology. With millions continually invested in new equipment, and an ISO certification typically reserved for third party labs, Forever Nutraceutical stays on the cutting-edge of the supplement industry.
Once Forever’s products are manufactured, they are ready to be distributed all over the world. Forever Direct, located in the Netherlands, is the distribution hub for many of the 160 countries where Forever does business. Vertical integration allows Forever to provide customers with the best value by carefully monitoring every aspect of production, and making sure products make it to more than 160 countries as efficiently as possible.
Why aren’t more companies vertically integrated?
Vertical integration is expensive. It requires companies to invest a great deal in personnel, manufacturing facilities and distribution networks, while keeping everything running as efficiently as possible. Companies can save a lot of money by outsourcing some or most of their supply chain, but that also means sacrificing quality control and having less influence over the final product.
Forever decided early on that making the sacrifices needed to be a vertically integrated company would be the key to growth and stability. The investment might be higher at first but building a company on the right foundation was the key to earning trust and fostering long term relationships with customers worldwide.
Those investments aren’t limited to the most advanced scientific equipment and sustainable manufacturing. It’s about investing in the right people as well. From the team who nurture, and hand harvest every aloe vera plant, to the bright scientific minds who help create and manufacture skincare products, dietary supplements and so much more, Forever is proud to have a global team of passionate and skilled professionals.
Keeping vertical integration flexible for the modern market
While vertical integration is the heart of Forever’s business model, working in a global, ever connected economy still requires key partnerships in certain areas. That’s why Forever takes a flexible approach by working with key partners when specialised manufacturing or packaging is needed. For instance, when Forever began using aseptic processing to create aloe vera gel drinks with higher nutrient content and no added preservatives, the company partnered with Tetra Pack to ensure the packaging would preserve freshness, look great and be made of 100 percent recyclable materials. The gel inside is still Forever’s pure inner leaf aloe and processed using our innovative, proprietary approach but packaged by a trusted partner which allows us to access this powerful packaging technology and share it with the world.
The advantages of vertical integration allow Forever to control its supply chain and avoid disruptions, while being able to streamline processes and adapt quickly. Production can be ramped up or slowed down to meet customers demand on a moment’s notice. This level of control helps Forever control costs and provide the best possible value to customers. By remaining flexible, Forever can always bring on partners and work with manufacturers to remain on the forefront of packaging and technology while keeping the core of manufacturing and distribution in-house. This is how the company puts customers first, by making sure every product that goes out meets the highest standards of excellence.
Vertical integration and sustainability
Being vertically integrated allows Forever to continuously improve sustainability at every level, from the aloe fields to manufacturing facilities and distribution centres. Here are just a few of the ways the company has made a positive impact on the environment.
- 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 fertilise 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 Pack containers. This packaging is always shipped flat, allowing more to be transported at one time, greatly reducing Forever’s carbon footprint.