SOURCE: Stevia Corp.

Stevia Corp.

April 15, 2015 08:29 ET

Stevia Corp. on Track for Another Record Harvest

Company Is on Track for Year-Over-Year Spring Harvest Growth of More Than 50%

INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwired - Apr 15, 2015) - Stevia Corp. (OTCQB: STEV) ("Stevia Corp" or the "Company"), an international farm management company and healthcare company focused on the commercial development of products that support a healthy lifestyle, including stevia and hemp and their compounds, is pleased to announce that the Company's 2015 spring harvest is on track to exceed 3,000 tons, achieving a 50% increase over the 2014 spring harvest and a 300% increase over the 2013 spring harvest.

As the spring harvest winds down in Asia over the next several weeks the company will begin to allocate resources and shift focus to the US market where it sees its greatest potential to develop the hemp industry and specifically the intellectual property surrounding the cannabinoids.

George Blankenbaker, Stevia Corp President, commented, "We want to be very focused moving forward and capitalize on our core competencies working with medicinal plants, identifying their active compounds, breeding the plants to produce targeted compounds, extracting those compounds and commercializing them. This is very relevant to both stevia and industrial hemp with the difference being that we cannot yet legally grow hemp and our focus will be on developing and commercializing IP around the cannabinoids."

Mr. Blankenbaker continued, "The Company has formed a new advisory panel to include notable experts in the cannabis field to help guide our efforts and we will be announcing the first two appointments over the next week. We are very excited to welcome these experts to our team and believe that we can create an intellectual platform to separate us from the crowd."

To address the issues of growing hemp in the US and developing a US supply chain, Mr. Blankenbaker serves on the board of the Indiana Hemp Industries Association (, which promotes research and development of the hemp industry through education and lobbying and is working with the members of the Purdue Industrial Hemp Research Team and the Indiana Seed Commissioner to support the hemp pilot projects being planned for Indiana.

In Asia, the Company has reached the stage where it is able to reorganize its operations to decrease capital expenditure on low-value farming activities and focus more on downstream value add processing and commercialization. This will enable the company to achieve higher margin growth with lower capital expenditure moving forward.

Mr. Blankenbaker commented, "Initially it was important to establish ourselves in the farming production phase in Asia which is capital extensive, but now that we have proven our competency and established credibility, we are being approached by major companies to partner on projects that will utilize more of our intellectual property assets which will both increase our margins and decrease our capital expenditure allowing us to grow with less dilution."

Mr. Blankenbaker continued, "Importantly we have established our own core team and economies of scale in Asia allowing us to disengage third party farm management companies such as Growers Synergy and begin focusing more on developing our internal IP which has been a stated goal since June 2011."

The operation in Asia will continue to focus on commercializing its stevia derived products such as fish feed supplements and other medicinal plant compounds. The core competencies developed in these areas directly translate to the hemp plant and its cannabinoids.

Mr. Blankenbaker commented, "I want to be very clear what our focus is as a company. When we talk about potentially supplying our stevia fish feed to South America and selling stevia fed fish to notable buyers, we are not becoming a fish company. Rather this is an extension of commercializing our stevia IP. Because both the stevia and hemp markets are developing, it sometimes requires us to be active in the entire supply chain to develop the market for our IP, but at the end of the day our main focus is developing IP associated with medicinal plants and commercializing that IP. That is where we intend to build shareholder value and we believe that IP surrounding the hemp plant provides the greatest long-term potential."

Mr. Blankenbaker continued, "We also believe that commercialization of the cannabinoids, the IP surrounding the cannabinoids and the related potential medical applications provides opportunities to consider potential spin offs, joint ventures and other potential financial structures."

As part of the focus on hemp and the US market, the Company's online store is scheduled to go live during the month of July 2015. Amazon recently announced that it will be changing its platform and the Company's site is being redesigned to incorporate this change.

Mr. Blankenbaker commented, "The site will be designed to host a variety of products across several categories allowing the Company to monitor what areas resonate with the general public so that we can focus more on those areas moving forward. We don't expect the site to necessarily generate significant income, but we believe it will be an excellent tool to engage the public and leverage the social media following that the company has been building."

About Stevia Corp. (OTCQB: STEV)
Stevia Corp. is a farm management company and healthcare company focused on developing highly nutritional, high value products through proprietary plant breeding, excellent agricultural methodologies and innovative post-harvest techniques. Stevia Corp invests in R&D and IP acquisition and manages its own propagation, nursery and plantations as well as provides services to contract growers and other industry growers. Stevia Corp was founded on the principal of implementing socially responsible, sustainable, quality agribusiness solutions to maximize the long-term efficient production of nutritional crops. For additional information please visit:

About the Hemp Industry Sector
Industrial Hemp is a crop that can be grown for food and non-food purposes. As a result of its numerous nutritional benefits, many new food products containing hemp seed and its oil are finding their way into the marketplace, including pasta, tortilla chips, salad dressings, snack products and frozen desserts. Hemp seed contains a complete protein and the seed oil is the richest source of essential fatty acids (Omega-6 and Omega-3) with the perfect ratio of 3:1. Hemp seed oil is also used in nutraceuticals and health care products.

As a fiber source, hemp is undergoing rapid growth as a natural fiber in everything from clothing and textiles to automotive composites. The fiber is also gaining popularity as insulation and other building materials.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) estimated that the 2014 retail sales value of hemp food and body care products in the United States was $200 million. When clothing, paper, auto parts, building materials and various other products are included, the HIA estimates that the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2014 to be at least $620 million. Total hemp retail sales in the U.S. have continued to grow steadily and the annual percent growth is estimated by the HIA to have progressed from 7.3% (2011), to 16.5% (2012), to 24% (2013), to 21.2% in 2014.

Industrial Hemp is distinct from marijuana and is defined as the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Although it is legal to import and sale industrial hemp products in the U.S., it is not yet legal to commercially grow industrial hemp in the U.S. The 2013 farm bill was signed into law in February 2014 and contained a hemp amendment, Sec. 7606 Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research, which allows states that have already legalized the crop to cultivate hemp within the parameters of state agriculture departments and research institutions.

In January of 2015, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in both the House and Senate, H.R. 525 and S. 134 respectively. If passed, the bill would remove all federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp, and remove its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

About Cannabinoids
There are at least 85 different cannabinoids that have been identified in the cannabis plant. The most notable cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana (a variety of cannabis containing high levels of THC). Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant and is a primary compound in Industrial Hemp (a variety of cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis).

Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors. At present there are two known types of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2, with mounting evidence of more. The human brain has more cannabinoid receptors than any other G protein-coupled receptor type. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and CB2 receptors are predominantly found in the immune system or immune-derived cells. Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by humans and animals), the phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially).

In October 2003, U.S. patent U.S. Patent 6,630,507 entitled "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants" was assigned to "The United States Of America As Represented By The Department Of Health And Human Services." The patent was filed in April 1999 and listed as the inventors: Aidan J. Hampson, Julius Axelrod, and Maurizio Grimaldi, who all held positions at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The patent mentions cannabidiol's ability as an antiepileptic, to lower intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma, lack of toxicity or serious side effects in large acute doses, its neuroprotectant properties, its ability to prevent neurotoxicity mediated by NMDA, AMPA, or kainate receptors; its ability to attenuate glutamate toxicity, its ability to protect against cellular damage, its ability to protect brains from ischemic damage, its anxiolytic effect, and its superior antioxidant activity which can be used in the prophylaxis and treatment of oxidation associated diseases.

Oxidative associated diseases include, without limitation, free radical associated diseases, such as ischemia, ischemic reperfusion injury, inflammatory diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus, myocardial ischemia or infarction, cerebrovascular accidents (such as a thromboembolic or hemorrhagic stroke) that can lead to ischemia or an infarct in the brain, operative ischemia, traumatic hemorrhage (for example a hypovolemic stroke that can lead to CNS hypoxia or anoxia), spinal cord trauma, Down's syndrome, Crohn's disease, autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes), cataract formation, uveitis, emphysema, gastric ulcers, oxygen toxicity, neoplasia, undesired cellular apoptosis, radiation sickness, and others. Cannabinoids are believed to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of oxidative associated diseases of the CNS, because of the ability of the cannabinoids to cross the blood brain barrier and exert their antioxidant effects in the brain. It is believed that pharmaceutical composition of cannabinoids can be used for preventing, arresting, or treating neurological damage in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and HIV dementia; autoimmune neurodegeneration of the type that can occur in encephalitis, and hypoxic or anoxic neuronal damage that can result from apnea, respiratory arrest or cardiac arrest, and anoxia caused by drowning, brain surgery or trauma (such as concussion or spinal cord shock).

Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in Section 27A of the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements in this press release, which are not purely historical, are forward-looking statements and include any statements regarding beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Such forward-looking statements include, among other things, the 2015 spring harvest, shift in focus to U.S. hemp market and developing intellectual property related to cannabinoids, creation of advisory panel in the cannabis field, shift in focus in Asia to downstream value add processing and commercialization, using intellectual property assets to generate higher margins and lower capital expenditures, disengaging third party farm management companies, developing intellectual property associated with medicinal plants, launch of online hemp product store, annual retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S., growth of industrial hemp product industry, potential uses of cannabinoids for treatment of various illnesses and diseases, product development and business strategy. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. Such factors include, among others, the inherent uncertainties associated with new projects and development stage companies. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this news release, and we assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that any beliefs, plans, expectations and intentions contained in this press release are reasonable, there can be no assurance that any such beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions will prove to be accurate. Investors should consult all of the information set forth herein and should also refer to the risk factors disclosure outlined in our annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent fiscal year, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and other periodic reports filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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