Overall, it is hard to determine if ALO Awaken aloe vera juice is a sustainable brand. Given the distinct lack of information on their website and the fact that they outsource all their farming and operations, we can only assume the worst until proven otherwise. The company also makes claims of being produced on “sustainable farms” and “made with organic ingredients”, but lacks any third-party certifications to prove these claims are true. If the company worked on being more open about their farming, labor, and manufacturing processes, this drink would be relatively sustainable with the exception of the environmental issues surrounding sugar cane. If you are a fan of this product, I’d advise reaching out to the brand directly and demanding more transparency.
ALO Awaken aloe vera juice is vegan, non-GMO, and consists of natural ingredients and sugars. The drink primarily contains water, aloe vera juice, aloe vera pulp, cane sugar, wheatgrass extract, and several natural flavors and preservatives. In terms of sustainability, none of the ingredients raise red flags with the exception of cane sugar. The farming of cane sugar has been associated with biodiversity loss, habitat loss, and soil erosion. ALO doesn’t state whether or not this cane sugar is being refined into white or brown sugar, however, the processing of both kinds contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in their respective refining processes. Cane sugar is also known for producing lots of wastewater. On average, 520 gallons of wastewater are produced to crush and refine just one ton of sugar cane.
On their website, ALO claims that their aloe vera “comes from our sustainable farm in Thailand” and is “organic”, however, they provide no evidence or certification that either of these statements is true. The only claim that is backed by a certification is that their ingredients are non-GMO, meaning that none of the DNA in their ingredients have been unnaturally modified to produce better yields. This, however, does not guarantee that they aren’t using chemical-based fertilizers on their crops and contributing to agricultural runoff.
After they farm their aloe vera, the leaves are “hand filleted and the pulp is removed.” Considering that this is a very labor-intensive process, it would be great if ALO ensured its workers in Thailand were being treated fairly through certifications like Fair Trade. The drinks are then bottled at a facility in Thailand before being shipped out to their stores and retail partners in the U.S. Since the farming and packing operations are almost 8,000 miles away from their retail locations, it can be assumed that the transportation of these products produces significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Although large-scale aloe vera farming is relatively new in the U.S., ALO should consider investing in more local sourcing if they would like to run a more sustainable operation.
ALO Drink was founded in 2009 by current CEO Henry Chen and is now the #1 ready-to-drink aloe vera beverage in the U.S. The company, which is owned by SPI Westpoint, started as an American food distributor in Taiwan and Hong Kong, selling popular American snacks such as Jelly Belly jelly beans and Synder’s pretzels. However, somewhere along the way, they discovered many snacks that weren’t available in the American market, including aloe vera drinks. With health becoming a priority in the American market, Chen saw an opportunity to sell the potential health benefits of aloe vera and launched ALO Drinks. In an attempt to stand out, ALO created ALO Tones, an innovative marketing campaign that matches music to each of their drink flavors. The company also hired various upcoming artists and dancers to create pieces based on ALO’s flavors. Despite an interesting start and marketing campaign, the company lacks brand identity when it comes to social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They make no mention of who their leadership or workers are, and instead are very focused on selling themselves as a natural and healthy product (despite having 31 grams of added sugar per serving). I think that they would come off as a more authentic brand if they were transparent about their operations and values on their website, but without this information, we are left to assume the worst.