Thanks for the info drb2560. I think the discussion is regarding an actual Stevia First Corp product (as opposed to just a stevia sweetener by another brand). It will be great to see a product branded by Stevia First Corp. Expected already by the end of this year.
Go over to "Market Playground" website and search on "stvf". You'll find a great article entitled "Weighing In on America's Healthier Lifestyle Investments"
Stevia First Corp. (PINK:STVF) is a lower market capitalization company, closing out Tuesday’s trading at $0.54, which represents a market capitalization of just under $30 million. The company is a development-stage candidate whose value is currently based on its potential revenue and current technological advances as opposed to the earnings and chart technicals as presented in HAIN or WTW. Stevia First’s business model is based on novel means of producing steviol glycosides, most notably stevioside (‘STV’) and rebaudioside A (‘Reb A’), the sweetest and best tasting of the compounds derived from stevia plant tissue. These plant extracts, in their purest forms, are approximately 300-400 times sweeter than sugar (weight to weight comparisons). With an all-natural origin, zero calories, and very low glycemic index, stevia’s growth has been significant since its 2008 U.S. debut. It has overtaken aspartame’s number two position as a zero-calorie sweetener, and is now second only to Splenda (sucralose) in terms of total annual sales. Although a newcomer in the zero-calorie sweetener market, stevia’s growth has been nothing short of amazing, with the sweetener now sold under big name brands. These include such major companies as The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) and Cargill’s brand Truvia, PepsiCo’s (NYSE:PEP) and Merisant’s PureVia as well as the Cumberland Packing Corporation’s Stevia in the Raw.
With bigger companies having an obvious vested interest in the growth and marketing of their respective stevia products, the significant growth has resulted in some “growing pains” as there are very few domestic producers/growers of stevia in the U.S., with much of the leaves or extracts imported. This obviously adds to the costs and quality concerns. Most important for consumers and the large bottlers or manufacturers is the consistency of the stevia extracts themselves. With different soil conditions, climates, and even stevia plant types, it has become evident that consistency in producing batches of stevia extracts is becoming an issue. Not only are sweetness levels difficult to keep consistent from batch to batch, but the lingering aftertaste often present in the plant extracts is inconsistent from batch to batch. To address these and other issues due to varied suppliers from different countries with differing flavor profiles, Stevia First is trying to set itself apart with a dual-approach business model. First the company is using an agribusiness model to develop what it believes to be a superior stevia plant in central California’s Yuba Valley. The company has been researching multiple plant types in order to determine the best in terms of efficiency of stevia extracts produced, but with a consistent and desirable flavor profile.
In its January of 2013 “Letter to Shareholders”, the company outlined its business plans for the year. As pertaining to its agribusiness model, the company plans on advancing from its field trials it had used for research purposes in 2012 to a full-scale crop, likely in 2013. The cash from these crops will serve to both provide revenue and to grow a customer base for both the agribusiness unit and the company’s other venture, a fermentation-based production model for producing stevia’s sweet extracts. The fermentation-based production of stevia is licensed from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and was announced in August of 2012. The technology has the capability to produce the same stevia extracts via a quicker fermentation technology that omits or reduces the need for the growth of stevia in order to have its desired extracts. The approach can either use stevia leaves and stems or can actually function and produce the same compounds with no actual stevia leaves used whatsoever. This approach can be used in conjunction with the agribusiness model or can function as a whole separate business. There are notable advantages of the fermentation business including a more consistent control of the flavor profile of the end product, a much quicker time to actual product output (not having to wait on a crop to grow) and the all-import cost: According to the press release, 70% of the costs associated with producing stevia for the markets is directly associated with the costs of the actual stevia leaf production. Once Stevia First advances beyond the development phase of the fermentation process research and begins to upscale to a larger production facility, I anticipate investor interest to dramatically grow in the company’s potential, driving the share price well above its current levels.