S&W Seed Updates Progress on Stevia Breeding Program
FIVE POINTS, Calif., Aug. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — S&W Seed Company (Nasdaq: SANW), provided an update today on its research and development program to produce proprietary varieties of stevia, the source of an all-natural sweetener, known as Rebaudioside A, or Reb-A. Under the direction of Dr. Clinton Shock, Ph.D., consulting agronomist for S&W Seed Company, the company is pursuing the development of proprietary stevia varieties with higher Reb A concentrations, greater robustness, and varietal consistency.
As an all-natural product, stevia is increasingly becoming a popular alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. Stevia has been used in Paraguay for millennia. Three hundred (300) times sweeter than sugar, Reb A has no calories, no carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index. In early May, AC Nielsen reported that Truvia, the two-year old tabletop stevia sweetener, recently surpassed Sweet ‘N Low to become the #2 sugar substitute in the country, and is now in more than five million U.S. households.
In its December 2010 report, titled Sugar and Sweeteners – US, Mintel, a leading market research firm, stated, “Reb-A and stevia is projected to penetrate 20 to 25 percent of the global sugar and sweetener market, which is currently still growing.” According to Mintel, the global market for stevia sweeteners has topped $500 million per year following U.S. regulatory approval in late 2008 and could reach billions of dollars per year in the coming years.
Mark Grewal, president and CEO of S&W Seed Company, commented, “We are working diligently to develop a breed of stevia that will yield a higher level of sweetness, that will stand up to the rigors of highly mechanized farming, and that will be highly consistent. Our alfalfa breeders have produced some of the highest yielding, non-dormant varieties of alfalfa seed the world has seen. Our goal is to leverage that expertise to create a proprietary variety of stevia that is top performing. We intend to do this by assembling a team of recognized leaders in stevia, like Dr. Clinton Shock, to produce the best variety possible.”
Dr. Shock first worked with stevia more than 40 years ago in Paraguay and Brazil. Dr. Shock has accumulated a lifetime of knowledge on the characteristics of stevia, and has collected an unrivaled “library” of scores of plant samples that is exclusively available to S&W’s plant breeding program. In early 2010, S&W retained Clinton Shock, Ph.D., professor and superintendent of Oregon State University’s Malheur Experiment Station, under an exclusive consulting contract. S&W currently has test plots maturing and on the verge of being harvested for seed. These plots utilize germplasm (plant varieties) obtained by S&W through its relationship with Pure Circle, as well as germplasm from scores of different plants that are uniquely available to Dr. Shock. Testing for Reb A levels is currently underway on hundreds of samples of test plot stevia. The results from these tests will be used in S&W’s cross breeding program. From those crossed plants Dr. Shock will identify proprietary varieties which are highest in Reb A content, deliver the most sweetness, and are the hardiest plants, lending themselves to mechanized farming of the crop on a large scale within the U.S.
(A photo gallery of S&W Seed Company’s stevia development program is available on the Company’s website at www.swseedco.com/steviagallery.htm.)
The Company has completed the planting of its first commercial stevia crop in California. Based on the development of the crop to this point, the Company expects the initial harvest to occur later in 2011 with the initial leaf harvest going into inventory shortly thereafter. Initial shipments, and initial stevia revenues, are currently expected during the last calendar quarter of 2011.
About S&W Seed Company
Founded in 1980 and headquartered in the Central Valley of California, S&W Seed Company is a leading producer of warm climate, high yield alfalfa seed varieties, including varieties that can thrive in poor, saline soils, as verified over decades of university-sponsored trials. S&W also offers seed cleaning and processing at its 40-acre facility in Five Points, California and has recently launched a business expansion initiative centered on its plan to mass produce stevia leaf in the U.S. in response to growing global demand for the all-natural, zero calorie sweetener from the food and beverage industry. For more information, please visit www.swseedco.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may,” “future,” “plan” or “planned,” “will” or “should,” “expected,” “anticipates,” “draft,” “eventually” or “projected.” You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and other risks identified in the Company’s 10-K for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, and other filings made by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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SOURCE S&W Seed Company