- This week, Fresno, CA-based S&W Seed Co. filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its stevia plant variety, called SW 227, which is confirmed to have a sweet leaf taste with low bitterness and aftertaste. Company officials believe the variety is ideal for the fresh and dry leaf markets.
- The patent is the fourth filed by the company for a unique stevia plant variety. Varieties SW 107 and SW 129 are designed for commercial processors who make stevia derivatives for the mass market, while SW 201 features an improved taste profile and is also ideal for producing fresh and dry leaf stevia.
- S&W Seed focuses on developing varieties that will add value to the front end of the supply chain. SW 227 not only has an improved taste, but also offers the benefits of increased yields with more stems, important in the mechanization of harvesting.
Persistence Market Research estimated the global stevia market was $347 million in 2014 and will be $565.2 million by 2020. Among other factors, the market is driven by consumers who want low-calorie natural sweeteners.
Research from the IMARC Group attributed the expected increase in the global stevia market to rising health concerns and government initiatives on reducing sugar intake, among other factors. IMARC found stevia-derived products are replacing artificial sweeteners in products such as beverages, bakery products, dairy products, table-top sweeteners, dietary supplements and packaged food products.
Ingredient manufacturers are increasingly turning to stevia as a source for artificial sweeteners. Cargill is one company making a big commitment to stevia with its EverSweet product.
Companies are also partnering to further their market position, creating fully integrated companies. Sweet Green Fields, the leading global producer of premium stevia extracts announced a merger with its long-time supplier Zhejiang Green World through EPC Natural Products, a leader in identification, development and production of active natural ingredients.
Earlier this year, Sunwin Stevia announced it will establish a U.S. distribution center in order to more effectively distribute its stevia extracts to clients. The distribution center will also serve the South American market.