SOURCE: Stevia First Corporation

Stevia First Corporation

April 09, 2014 09:00 ET

Stevia First Corp. Expands Scientific Advisory Board and Appoints Director of R&D

Changes to Team Enable Research to Increase Production of Next-Generation Stevia Sweeteners

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 9, 2014) - 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 commercial scale production of stevia, the all-natural zero-calorie sweetener that is rapidly transforming the food and beverage industry, is pleased to announce that Doug Grubb, Ph.D. has accepted a position on the Company's Scientific Advisory Board and that Brandon Zipp, Ph.D. has been promoted internally to the position of Director of R&D.

Dr. Grubb is a leader in creating new scientific knowledge that describes the role of UDP-Glucosyltransferases (UGTs) in plant metabolism. UGTs are the enzymes responsible for later stages of steviol glycoside production and their activity determines the taste profile of natural sweeteners found within the stevia leaf. Dr. Grubb's contributions could enhance Stevia First's process for producing the commercially important glycoside Reb A, and also be relevant to production of next-generation stevia sweeteners such as Reb D, Reb M, or others. Next-generation stevia sweeteners taste better than Reb A, but occur at low concentrations within the stevia leaf and therefore are difficult and expensive to supply at commercial scale using traditional leaf extraction. 

In addition to Dr. Grubb joining the team, Stevia First confirmed today that Brandon Zipp, Ph.D. has been promoted to Director of R&D. Dr. Zipp was hired in December 2012 to expand the Company's capabilities related to fermentation and plant sciences. Dr. Zipp has diverse training in biochemistry, molecular biology, and fermentation, combined with extensive hands-on laboratory experience with plant UGTs. His work at Stevia First has already led to notable deliverables including the filing of new intellectual property, and in his new position he will continue to work and lead staff in tackling additional opportunities.

Stevia First is developing technologies for industrial production of stevia sweeteners using fermentation in conjunction with traditional agricultural production. Fermentation-based stevia production methods may bypass or greatly diminish the need for stevia leaf production, which by some estimates accounts for 70% or more of the total costs of traditional stevia extract production. 

The Company's CEO, Robert Brooke states, "We are thrilled to elevate Dr. Zipp and to welcome Dr. Grubb to our Scientific Advisory Board." Mr. Brooke adds that, "Both individuals have uncommonly deep experience working with plant UGTs, a specialized area of research that is of prime importance for enabling the first truly reliable global supply of next-generation stevia sweeteners."

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.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Investor Relations
    Stevia First Corporation
    Email: info@stevia-first.com
    Tel: +1- (530) 231-7800
    Web: www.steviafirst.com

    Media Relations
    Laura Radocaj
    Dian Griesel Int'l
    Tel: +1-(212) 825-3210