S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq: SANW), today announced that it has completed the in-field portion of its first stevia harvest and is in the process of drying and separating stevia leaf from the stem in the field and in its processing facility in Five Points, California.
Shipment of the dried stevia leaf to PureCircle, the world's leading producer of high purity stevia ingredients for the global food and beverage industry, is expected in October 2011. Upon shipment, S&W will begin the initial recognition of revenues from its stevia program, marking the accomplishment of a significant goal that the Company set in late 2008, when S&W set out to pioneer the commercialization of stevia production for the U.S. market.
As an all-natural product, stevia is an increasingly popular alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. Three hundred (300) times sweeter than sugar, Reb A, the naturally occurring sweetness component in stevia, has no calories, no carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index. In early May, AC Nielsen reported that Truvia, the two-year old tabletop stevia sweetener, recently surpassed Sweet 'N Low (saccharin) to become the #2 sugar substitute in the country, and is now in more than five million U.S. households.
Mark Grewal, president and CEO of S&W Seed Company, commented, "Today's announcement is truly a milestone day for S&W Seed Company. Our agronomists have done a tremendous job selecting and growing stevia plants that hold up to the stress of mechanized farming. We are more optimistic than ever about being able to commercially produce stevia in California. With our in-house farming and plant breeding expertise, we believe we can be an industry leader through mass cultivation of stevia leaf, with high yields of leaf that have good levels of the Reb-A sweetener component. We believe there are great opportunities in this market in the coming years."
In its December 2010 report, titled Sugar and Sweeteners - US , Mintel, a leading market research firm, stated, "Reb-A and stevia is projected to penetrate 20 to 25 percent of the global sugar and sweetener market, which is currently still growing." According to Mintel, the global market for stevia sweeteners has topped $500 million per year following U.S. regulatory approval in late 2008 and could reach billions of dollars per year in the coming years.
(A photo gallery and video news coverage of S&W Seed Company's stevia development program and initial harvest are available on the Company's website at www.swseedco.com/investors.htm.)
With the announcement of today's initial stevia harvest, the company expects initial shipments, and initial stevia revenues, during the last calendar quarter of 2011.