SOURCE: Stevia First Corporation

Stevia First Corporation

January 28, 2015 09:00 ET

Stevia First Corp. Announces New Proprietary Fermentation Method for Steviol Production

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 28, 2015) - Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF) ("Stevia First" or the "Company"), an agricultural biotechnology company based in California's Central Valley growing region and focused on the industrial scale production of stevia, the all-natural zero-calorie sweetener that is rapidly transforming the food and beverage industry, is pleased to announce an important achievement and addition to its stevia production technologies.

The Company has successfully developed novel fermentation methods to produce steviol, a key step in the production of all steviol glycosides, the sweet substances found naturally within the stevia plant. Upon commercialization, steviol glycosides will serve in the reduction of sugar consumption and aid for the prevention of metabolic disorders.

In related news, Stevia First has also recently developed a proprietary process that converts abundant precursor molecules found within the stevia leaf into high-purity Reb A, the best tasting of the more abundant steviol glycosides. This enzyme enhancement process could more than double the output of high-purity Reb A per acre of stevia leaf and the Company could use similar fermentation methods as described above for low-cost production of stevia enzymes within this process. Analogous fermentation methods have already been proven economical for ingredients critical to the food and beverage industry and their use is increasingly widespread around the globe.

"We're intent on rapidly increasing the global supply of stevia, and are enabling this through a variety of methods including biosynthesis and mechanized agriculture," says Robert Brooke, CEO of Stevia First. "The continued rise in health concerns along with increased occurrences of diabetes and obesity is expected to drive the demand and growth for sugar substitutes over the next six years, making this a very crucial time for what we have produced. This achievement is another demonstration of what our R&D team can accomplish in a very short period of time."

It is currently estimated that 70% or more of the cost of Reb A stevia extract is directly attributable to the cost of stevia leaf production, and the cost of stevia leaf extract has increased considerably due to a shortage of leaf supply. Next-generation stevia sweeteners such as Reb D or Reb M may be more "sugar-like" than Reb A, but they also are very rare and therefore even more expensive to obtain through traditional leaf extraction. The Company has succeeded in developing novel fermentation methods that enable production of steviol, a key intermediate molecule in the production of all sweet steviol glycosides, including stevia and next-gen stevia sweeteners, and this factor could greatly reduce or even bypass entirely the need for stevia leaf production. 

It is common within industry, and often a starting point, to use glucose-fed yeast within a fermentation production system due to its relative ease of use. This latest fermentation process developed by Stevia First however is unique in that it takes advantage of a new production system, one which can be used within solid-state fermentations and does not require glucose as an input material. Solid state fermentations can recycle agricultural byproducts for use as input materials, use less water, and may also require relatively little capital equipment for operation. Compared to alternative methods in use today, these advantages could enable a fermentation production system that is even more economical and environmentally-friendly. 

About Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF)
Stevia First Corp. is an agricultural biotechnology company that is enabling dramatically healthier food and nutrition products. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com and connect with the Company on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

About the Stevia Industry
 
The market for all-natural, zero-calorie stevia sweeteners is expanding rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates stevia intake could eventually replace 20-30% of all dietary sweeteners. The total global sweetener market was estimated at $58.3 billion in 2010. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com.

Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in Section 27(a) of the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21(e) 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, projections of worldwide sales of stevia products, growth of stevia production and global markets. 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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