SOURCE: Stevia First Corporation

Stevia First Corporation

April 30, 2012 07:00 ET

Stevia First Corp. Recaps Recent Stevia Market Activity and Company Progress

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - Apr 30, 2012) - Stevia First Corp. (OTCBB: 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 report on recent progress in the stevia market and at the Company.

It has been less than a year since stevia was approved for food and beverage uses in Europe, and it was only in 2008 that Truvia, a tabletop stevia-based sweetener developed by Coca-Cola and Cargill Inc., won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since that time, Truvia has taken off and is already the second-leading sugar substitute brand just behind Splenda, having already surpassed household-names such as Equal.

The pace of new stevia product introductions is staggering, as more than 500 new products were introduced world-wide in 2011 alone. Some have experienced considerable success, such as Coca-Cola's Vitaminwater Zero brand that achieved approximately $110 million in sales in its first year. This success has occurred despite the industry still being in its infancy.

To date, more than 85% of U.S. consumers still have never purchased food and beverage products that contain stevia. But, consumer awareness of stevia is rising fast, with the percentage of consumers that know of stevia growing from 32% in 2009 to 57% in 2011. Such rapidly increasing consumer recognition bodes well for stevia's continued success and market growth. This is especially true now that regulators in all major markets have approved its use, which no longer holds back the market potential of what many consumers and industry insiders have long considered the "holy grail" within the sweetener market.

Jubilation over the success of new stevia products and the approval of stevia in the U.S. and Europe should be tempered with reasonable expectations. With over 10 stevia manufacturers world-wide, not every company will be an overnight success, and current growers and processors of stevia may fall victim to new market entrants, sophisticated new technologies, and an overall modernization and globalization of a fragmented industry that was formed more than 30 years ago and has until now principally catered to consumers in Japan. Technical challenges also exist that could eventually present obstacles to the rapid growth and expansion of the stevia market.

Stevia First Corp. is pleased to report that it has made recent progress in its efforts to identify and position itself to solve such technical challenges, which could rapidly enable additional growth and uptake of stevia and also provide the Company with considerable competitive advantages within the industry.

In the past two months, Stevia First Corp. has leased 1,000 acres of land for a base of operations that contains unique zoning for food processing and other industrial uses, a build-out of our current headquarters that today contains a two-story building with office and laboratory space is nearing completion, stevia germination trials and vegetative propagation has been initiated, and the Company continues to recruit capable professionals and pioneers within the stevia industry to our team.

Commercial-scale stevia planting is important not only as a potential revenue source, but also because such an activity performed internally could inspire numerous patentable technological innovations. The Company's dedicated laboratory space is planned to include capabilities such as genetic marker and steviol glycoside profile analysis, and will support our ongoing research and development efforts. As emerging technologies are expected to reshape the stevia industry, the Company is now positioning itself to capitalize upon these trends. For example, several new technologies have been identified that could be considered disruptive if adopted industry-wide and at commercial-scale, and activities related to the acquisition and further development of these technologies are already underway.

Company CEO Robert Brooke states, "The pace of growth for Stevia First has been fantastic. From international interests to regional growers and our large shareholder community, we have been very pleased with our acceptance and their enthusiasm. There is lots of hard work ahead, but there are also clear and compelling market opportunities to justify it."

Further details of the Company's business, finances, appointments and agreements can be found as part of the Company's continuous public disclosure as a reporting issuer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission's ("SEC") EDGAR database. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com.

About Stevia First Corp. (OTCBB: STVF)
Stevia First Corp. is seeking to establish a vertically-integrated stevia enterprise in the U.S. with expertise in stevia seed and tissue propagation, plant breeding, and cultivation. 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 Products Mentioned
Certain products mentioned within this press release are not manufactured or sold by Stevia First Corp., including Truvia from Cargill, Splenda from Tate & Lyle, Equal from Merisant, and Vitaminwater Zero from Coca-Cola.

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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