Heartland Group: announces opening of Stevia Farm

Carmel / IN. (hfp) Heartland Food Products Group announced the opening of «Splenda Stevia Farm», the first-ever fully integrated, United States-based stevia farm. Now fully operational in Central Florida, the Farm aims to produce stevia sweetener, while building an emerging US agriculture industry, and decreasing environmental impact by eliminating unnecessary CO2 emissions caused by current global stevia supply chain operations. The Farm’s agricultural operations will enable the Group’s «Splenda» brand to domestically produce Stevia products and other «Splenda» sweetened foods and beverages.

Chairman and CEO Ted Gelov: «Additionally, by growing stevia in the US, we are helping to build a new American agriculture industry and bring more farming jobs and economic prosperity to Central Florida with this USD 50MM initial investment. Until now, all stevia has been grown and processed from markets outside the US, mainly China. The approach we’ve engineered with our «Splenda» Stevia Farm gives US farmers an opportunity to grow and process stevia right on their own farms. Our ultimate goal is to help Americans cut unwanted sugar from their diets by 25 percent or more by the year 2030.»

From inception, the «Splenda» Stevia Farm Management team designed the 1,465-acre farm to be eco-conscious. By growing stevia in the US, «Splenda» will reduce CO2 emissions by simplifying the existing complex and heavy transportation infrastructure, eliminating the need to transport product overseas. «Splenda» engineered socially responsible farming techniques and implemented water conservation measures and waste management, reshaping the impact stevia processing has on the environment.

Because the farm is fully, vertically integrated, «Splenda» is able to oversee every step of stevia production, from crop propagation to extraction of sweet glycosides (sugars) from the leaves. During the Farm’s innovative process, the stevia leaves are grown from cuttings from mother plants containing the strongest agricultural properties including the sweetest and best tasting stevia. The leaves are harvested and steeped in fresh water where the sweet stevia is then extracted with the water, and filtered, providing pure stevia glycosides for use in foods + beverages. The result is sweetness without bitterness, giving consumers high-quality and more importantly, great tasting low-calorie sweeteners grown by US farmers. The clean stevia leaves are pulled from steeping tanks and dried for use as nutrient-rich feed in animal agriculture, promoting a circle of sustainability without creating waste.

«Splenda’s consistency of sweetness from acre to acre is the result of our all-natural process, without genetic engineering, that utilizes the propagation of mother plants with the sweetest combinations of stevia glycosides,» said Ricardo Reyes, EVP, Global Manufacturing, Quality and Research + Development.