SOURCE: S & W Seed Company

S & W Seed Company

May 18, 2011 08:30 ET

S&W Seed to Begin Commercial Scale Planting of Stevia

FIVE POINTS, CA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2011) - S&W Seed Company (NASDAQ: SANW) today issued an update relating to its progress on producing high quality stevia leaf varieties in the U.S. on a commercial scale.

S&W recently completed the installation of a sub-surface pressurized irrigation system on a 114-acre planting site located in California's Central Valley; and within the next week, expects to initiate the planting of its first crop of stevia plants germinated from seeds originally sourced from China. The stevia plants are currently growing in greenhouses (see photo), and the transplanting of the plants in the field was recently slowed due to adverse weather conditions in the Central Valley.

The Company's stevia project team, led by program director Koren Sihota, will transplant up to approximately 3.8 million stevia plants. Notwithstanding any unforeseen challenges, the Company plans to complete its first of two planned cuttings by September 2011. The harvested stevia leaf will then be dried and processed at S&W's seed cleaning and processing plant in Five Points and shipped to the Company's strategic business partner, PureCircle, Ltd. (LSE: PURE), for commercial refining and subsequent sale to major food and beverage manufacturers. Based on this timeline, S&W expects to book its first stevia sales during the second half of this calendar year.

Stevia is the source for an all-natural sugar substitute, known as Rebaudioside A, or Reb-A, that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, yet has no calories, no carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index, making it a popular natural alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. The global market for stevia sweeteners has already hit $500 million dollars following US regulatory approval in late 2008 and could reach $10 billion in a few years, according to market research firm Mintel. In its December 2010 report, titled Sugar and Sweeteners - US, Mintel states, "Reb-A and stevia is projected to penetrate 20 to 25 percent of the global sugar and sweetener market, which is currently still growing." In early May, AC Nielsen reported that Truvia, the two-year old tabletop stevia sweetener, recently surpassed Sweet 'N Low to become the #2 sugar substitute in the country, and is now in more than five million U.S. households.

Stevia Breeding Program Update

Using traditional plant breeding techniques without genetic modifications, S&W continues to make material strides in its efforts to develop proprietary stevia varieties that will consistently yield a high percentage of high purity Reb-A and Reb-C. Reb-C, or Rebaudioside C, is also an all-nature derivative of stevia that can be used to enhance the sweet taste of carbohydrate sweeteners, such as sucrose and fructose.

About S&W Seed Company
Founded in 1980 and headquartered in the Central Valley of California, S&W Seed Company is a leading producer of warm climate, high yield alfalfa seed varieties, including varieties that can thrive in poor, saline soils, as verified over decades of university-sponsored trials. S&W also offers seed cleaning and processing at its 40-acre facility in Five Points, California. In fiscal 2010, the Company launched a business expansion initiative centered on its plan to mass produce stevia leaf in the U.S. in response to growing global demand for the all-natural, zero calorie sweetener from the food and beverage industry. For more information, please visit

Safe Harbor Statement
This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. "Forward-looking statements" describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as "may," "future," "plan" or "planned," "will" or "should," "expected," "anticipates," "draft," "eventually" or "projected." You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and other risks identified in the Company's 10-K for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, and other filings made by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contact Information

    Elite Financial Communications Group, LLC
    Dodi B. Handy
    President and CEO
    (Twitter: dodihandy)

    Kathy Addison
    (Twitter: kathyaddison)
    (407) 585-1080
    email Email Contact