Stevia First Corp. Provides Scale-Up Data for Reb A Production From Enzyme Enhancement
Jun 23, 2014
SACRAMENTO, CA--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 disclose industrial scale-up data for its purified Rebaudioside A ("Reb A") alternative sweetener products derived from an enzyme enhancement process.
In 2013, Stevia First achieved success in converting low-grade stevia extract directly into highly purified stevia extract using an enzyme enhancement process. Stevia First has filed new intellectual property related to this process and has been working extensively towards commercialization and implementation at an industrial scale.
Upon successful implementation, the Company intends to implement an annual minimum of 200 metric tons capacity for high purity Reb A through contract manufacturers or strategic partners. The process could enable Stevia First to directly convert low-grade stevia extract, which is commonly marketed for $40,000 per metric ton, into highly purified Reb A, which is often marketed for $100,000 per metric ton or more. The Company recently formed an alliance with Qualipride International in order to gain access to 1,500 metric tons of annual supply of low-grade stevia extract for use as starting material. For perspective on this capacity in the context of the stevia industry, Purecircle is a leading stevia supplier that disclosed as of 2013 a 2,800 metric ton capacity for highly purified stevia extract that could support annual sales of $250 to $300 million.
Stevia First's scale-up efforts to date have involved increasing reaction volumes by 25,000 times over initial laboratory conditions during production of food-grade stevia samples. The Company is now continuing to scale-up this process for pilot production and initial commercialization, with development to continue in mid-2014 directed at an initial production target of 400 kilograms per day of highly purified Reb A stevia extract. The Company estimates certain variable processing costs for initial production quantities to be less than $23,000 per ton, with additional costs related to enzyme production. Larger production runs could provide substantial economies of scale and greater margins. Stevia First is now reliably producing active Stevia enzymes at its facilities to be used within its enzyme enhancement process.
Dr. Brandon Zipp, Stevia First's Director of Research and Development, comments that, "We're finishing what the plant started, converting the most abundant steviol glycoside, stevioside, into the valuable Rebaudioside A and beyond."
Stevia First's CEO, Robert Brooke, adds that, "Since the 2003 discovery of this enzyme by our collaborator, this elegant approach to increasing global Reb A production has eluded the industry, but our team has employed its diverse experiences in handling Stevia UGT enzymes in a manner that has finally enabled a process that works. Discoveries in our lab made recently continue to set us apart, and position us ever closer to bringing our innovations to market."
About Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF)
Stevia First Corp. is an agricultural biotechnology company that has developed expertise for the production of stevia using fermentation and for improvement of traditional stevia farming and processing methods. The Company is also applying breakthrough technologies in software and the life sciences to develop product applications far beyond stevia and the food and beverage industry. 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.
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