SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 12, 2012) - Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF) ("Stevia First" or the "Company"), an early-stage agribusiness 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 its determination to act in concert with USDA-funded researchers by providing plant material, logistical support, and sites for ongoing stevia field trials.
Stevia First is an advocate of the USDA's Specialty Crops Project (http://ir4.rutgers.edu/) and believes project support will be important to successful domestic cultivation. In 2010, approximately 50,000 acres of stevia were grown globally although less than 1% occurred in the United States (U.S.).
Stevia is considered by the USDA a minor crop because it is grown on less than 300,000 acres. Minor crops include most vegetables, fruit, nuts, herbs, spices, and horticultural crops. However, minor crops account for over 40 billion dollars in annual sales, approximately forty percent of U.S. agricultural sales. Despite the high value of these crops, there is often a lack of incentive for the agrochemical industry to invest in registering crop protection tools for minor crops. Minor crops have fewer pest control tools despite their high value and importance. The specialty crops project offers an opportunity to overcome this gap and Stevia First aims to align itself closely with the program as an enthusiastic industry proponent. The Company's generation of conventional and organic stevia cultivation practices is aimed at providing leadership for growers that plan to widely introduce stevia in the United States.
Contingent upon a successful application and trial results, the USDA's Specialty Crops Project has the capability to lend support to industry or academic sponsors while interfacing directly with agrochemical companies enabling the approval of safe and effective conventional and organic agrochemicals for stevia growers across the US.
Company CEO Robert Brooke states, "We are seeking to develop a reliable and scalable North American supply chain of stevia products. Development of integrated pest management tools is critical in our effort to produce conventional and organic California grown stevia leaf. In addition, such work will support the more widespread availability of low-cost plant material feedstock for use with fermentation-based production of steviol glycosides."
About Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF)
Stevia First Corp. is seeking to establish a vertically-integrated enterprise in the U.S. that uses technological expertise in fermentation-based stevia production and improves upon traditional stevia farming and processing methods. Stevia First's U.S. operations are located in the heart of California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com.
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.