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Aruba Aloe: Aruba’s Pride

By Debbie Kunder

In every Aruba Aloe product you’ll find the perfect combination of all-natural quality ingredients, including 100% pure and fresh Aloe vera gel, an incredibly powerful moisturizer and healer. But in every bottle or tube, you’ll also find a rich, intriguing story—the history of Aruba Aloe and how Aruba became “The Island of Aloes.”

It’s a story that begins in 1840, when the Aloe vera plant was first introduced to Aruba by the Dutch governor van Raders. Not a whole lot grows with exuberance on the island of Aruba, but Aloe vera is the exception. The plant thrived in Aruba’s intensely hot, dry climate, and soon the cultivation of Aloe became one of the island’s earliest economic pillars.

farmer in aloe fields in Aruba

Initially, Aloe was cultivated for its latex—the yellow sap that seeps out of a cut Aloe leaf—which contains aloin, a natural laxative. The backbreaking work of the Aloe farmer included cutting the leaves from the plants, lining them up in a tilted trough to collect the seeping sap, cooking the sap for long hours that would last all night long, then allowing it to dry into hard blocks of resin, which were then shipped to the U.S. and Europe where the resin would be used to make pharmaceutical laxatives.

cooking aloe latex in Aruba

In 1890, entrepreneur Cornelius Eman decided to commercialize the aloin industry on Aruba, marking the founding of Aruba Aloe. He chose a plot of dusty land in the area of Hato to cultivate the Aloe plants. The effort paid off—in the years after 1906, Aruba became the world’s largest producer of Aloe resin. By 1920, 2/3 of the island was covered with Aloe fields, earning Aruba the nickname “The Island of Aloes.”

Aruba Aloe factory

Eventually, all good things come to an end. Synthetic laxatives were discovered, reducing the demand for natural aloin. At the same time, two other industries—oil refining and tourism—emerged, both promising easier work than toiling under the sun in the Aloe fields, and many Aloe fields on the island were abandoned. However, Aruba Aloe weathered the storm, thanks to Cornelius’ son, Jani, who took over the company around this time. For years, Jani had witnessed the locals using the Aloe vera gel—the firm, translucent gelatinous pulp of the Aloe leaf—to heal and moisturize. So, in the 1960s, Jani diverted the focus away from aloin and towards Aloe gel, building a facility to process the gel into cosmetics. With this shift, Aruba Aloe became one of the first companies in the world to make cosmetic products based on this curative gel, launching its first product line in 1966, and thereby putting Aruba back on the “Aloe map.”

Old Aruba Aloe factory

When Henny Eman took over the company in 1984, he hired Professor H.E. Junginger, Ph.D, a pharmaceutical technology professor, and Dr. Koos Veel, who together developed a whole new line of cosmetics, taking the number of products from 5 to 100 (wow!). In 2000, Louis Posner, a local businessman in Aruba with a keen eye for opportunities, took over the company, and a new modern factory facility was built next to the original Aloe fields. Posner pushed for further globalization of the brand with the vision of Aruba Aloe someday becoming for Aruba what Coca-Cola is for America and what Heineken is for Holland. Today, Aruba Aloe continues to carry out the age-old tradition of Aloe farming to formulate its ever-growing line of Aloe gel-infused products, which it sells in its 16 island retail stores and ships to more than 35 countries around the world.

Aruba Aloe ultra intensive aloe cream

As the safe keeper of a genuine island tradition and the manufacturer of products that are respected the world over, Aruba Aloe has become Aruba’s pride and joy. It’s quite probable that some day, if not already, Aruba Aloe will join the ranks of Coca-Cola and Heineken, earning the fame once more for Aruba as being “The Island of Aloes.”

Aruba Aloe farmer in field