Stevia First Discovers Novel Plant Variant in Extensive Field Trials

New Plants Could Enable Discovery and Production of Rare Next-Generation Stevia Sweeteners

Marketwired

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 18, 2014) - Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF) ("Stevia First" or the "Company"), an early-stage agribusiness 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 advise that it has recently identified a novel plant variant through its stevia field trials. The new plant is expected to be useful for discovery and production of rare, next-generation stevia sweeteners, and also for further characterization of key stevia enzymes.

In 2013, the Company screened a total of more than 50,000 stevia plants seeking to identify variants that would be valuable for commercial production of stevia sweeteners. Among these plants, Stevia First was able to identify a single plant that contained a natural gene mutation in an important region of a known stevia enzyme, thereby producing a very unique flavor profile.

As a result of this work, the Company is now growing stevia plants that could be useful in a breeding program for the production of rare next-generation stevia sweeteners. Certain forms of stevia found within the leaf taste superior to Reb A, the dominant form of stevia used commonly in retail products today. However, these desirable stevia sweeteners are typically found at low concentrations within the stevia leaf which makes them difficult and expensive to supply at commercial scale using traditional extraction methods.

Stevia First is developing technologies for the production of stevia using fermentation in conjunction with traditional agricultural production. Fermentation-based stevia production methods may bypass or greatly diminish the need for stevia leaf production, which by some estimates accounts for 70% or more of the total costs of traditional stevia extract production. 

The Company's CEO, Robert Brooke states that, "This discovery demonstrates the value of our plant sciences efforts and provides us with tools and insights that are uncommon within the stevia industry." Mr. Brooke adds that, "In particular, the findings could enable novel breeding work directed towards the discovery and industrial production of rare and desirable stevia sweeteners."

About Stevia First Corp. (OTCQB: STVF)
Stevia First Corp. is seeking to establish a vertically-integrated enterprise in the U.S. that uses technological expertise in fermentation-based stevia production and improves upon traditional stevia farming and processing methods. Stevia First's U.S. operations are located in the heart of California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. 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.

Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in Section 27(a) of the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements in this press release which are not purely historical are forward-looking statements and include any statements regarding beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Such forward-looking statements include, among other things, projections of worldwide sales of stevia products, growth of stevia production and global markets. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. Such factors include, among others, the inherent uncertainties associated with new projects and development stage companies. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this news release, and we assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that any beliefs, plans, expectations and intentions contained in this press release are reasonable, there can be no assurance that any such beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions will prove to be accurate. Investors should consult all of the information set forth herein and should also refer to the risk factors disclosure outlined in our annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent fiscal year, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and other periodic reports filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contact:


Investor Relations
Stevia First Corporation
Email: info@stevia-first.com
Tel: +1- (530) 231-7800
Web: www.steviafirst.com

Media Relations
Laura Radocaj
Dian Griesel Int'l
Tel: +1-(212) 825-3210
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