Ingredion Incorporated and S&W Seed Company, a global integrated agricultural seed technology company, have announced the companies have entered into an exclusive U.S. stevia pilot production supply agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, S&W will leverage its proprietary stevia plant portfolio and production techniques to supply Ingredion and its PureCircle by Ingredion subsidiary with high-quality, U.S.-sourced stevia plants.

 Mark Wong, CEO of S&W Seed Company, commented, “S&W has developed unique, non-GMO, all-natural stevia varieties over the past ten years utilizing our proprietary plant breeding program. Recently, we have made what we believe is a significant leap forward by validating efficacy of stevia production in the southeastern U.S. By leveraging a unique seed-to-plant process and mechanical harvesting system, we expect to dramatically reduce overall production costs. Importantly, this method is intended to allow the stevia to function as a green cover crop, helping to sequester carbon. We are excited to enter into this pilot production supply agreement with the world’s largest stevia ingredient producer, PureCircle by Ingredion, to further validate and expand upon our capabilities to date.”

“This agreement strengthens our ability to provide sugar reduction solutions for our customers by diversifying our supply of sustainably sourced stevia in the U.S.,” stated Jeremy Xu, Ingredion’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer. “This agreement with S&W will allow us to evaluate the long-term opportunity to produce large quantities of stevia in the U.S. effectively.”

Stevia is a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener of natural origin, up to 350 times sweeter than sugar, and found in more than 30,000 food and beverage products globally. The size of the global stevia market is estimated to grow to $1.6B by 2028, according to LEK and Ingredion’s internal analysis. Due to historical constraints with climate and harvesting techniques, most stevia production occurs outside the United States.

 This agreement represents the third major development to Ingredion’s stevia business in the last 14 months. Last July, Ingredion acquired a controlling stake in PureCircle (now PureCircle by Ingredion). Earlier this year, the Company announced a joint venture with Amyris to exclusively offer Fermented Sugarcane Reb M as part of its expanded stevia portfolio. PureCircle by Ingredion is the only stevia ingredient supplier to offer all major stevia production technologies (stevia from extraction, fermentation and bioconversion). Ingredion continues to invest in the future of sugar reduction innovation, inclusive of its stevia sweeteners and flavor modifiers.