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Desert Harvest working around nationwide aloe shortage

CEO Heather Florio says the demand for aloe products has skyrocketed during the pandemic, forcing Dessert Harvest to compete with larger companies for space in aloe fields, all trying to keep up with the demand.
The demand for aloe products has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
The demand for aloe products has skyrocketed during the pandemic.(Bryan Sidelinger)
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:37 PM EST
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - Aloe products are unregulated by the FDA, allowing fake versions to flood the US market. Since aloe is used in most commercial hand sanitizers, the pandemic has prompted some companies to cut corners with it.

As Desert Harvest settles into its new Ellsworth home in the Maine Grind building on Maine Street, the health care supplement company that moved this fall from North Carolina is facing a global shortage of its product’s main ingredient.

CEO Heather Florio says the demand for aloe products has skyrocketed during the pandemic, forcing Desert Harvest to compete with larger companies for space in aloe fields, all trying to keep up with the demand.

“One of our 180 capsule bottles of our super strength aloe vera, it takes roughly eighty-nine full-grown aloe leaves to make one bottle.”

That lack of supply doesn’t stop with the aloe plant.

“We’re seeing shortages in bottles, pumps, and lids, materials to make labels. All of our materials we’re finding shortages in.”

When supply can’t meet demand, oftentimes companies will use substitute ingredients to keep up, and what’s happening right now in the aloe industry. Products labeled aloe might not have any aloe in them at all. Florio says that’s not something Desert Harvest is willing to do.

“What is the easiest substitute to go to?” Folio said. “A quick sugar substitute like maltodextrin that is going to mimic aloe in products. And so you’re still getting to sell product and meet that consumer demand, while at the same time the consumer’s not realizing that the quality is diminishing. We will sacrifice quantity for quality. So there may be gaps or delays in the availability of our products. We will not sacrifice that quality in our products because that’s what makes our products, that’s why our consumers love what we have, and we will not sacrifice that for the almighty dollar.”

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