HOWTIAN has announced a significant milestone in the company’s mission to create natural and accessible food and nutrition products for the masses: the company has achieved up to 12% average Reb A yield this season — the highest ever in the industry and a significant turning point as stevia costs approach parity with artificial sweeteners.
Natural solutions for everyone; this is more of a commitment than an idea, as said by Zhu Liping, founder of HOWTIAN, at the company’s start in 1999. This philosophy has remained intact decades later. In fact, it served as the driving force behind the founding of HOWTIAN’s stevia ventures in 2009 and the drive for Project Shennong.
Project Shennong was inspired by the mythological Chinese ruler, Shennong Shi. Known as the “Divine Farmer” and celebrated as the father of Chinese Medicine, the ancient ruler taught his people new agricultural practices, herbal drug remedies, and the importance of living a healthier life.
Project Shennong began at a time when different steviol glycoside (the sweet component of stevia) processing technologies were emerging worldwide. In this growth period however, HOWTIAN saw many divert from the natural-leaf extraction technology, compromising on the natural properties of manufactured stevia for cost savings.
On the other hand, HOWTIAN decided to offer solutions that retained natural principles at the forefront, while also achieving an affordable cost by investing in R&D to develop higher steviol glycoside yielding plant varieties, as well as testing and scaling them for mass production.
“Ten years ago, the average Reb A yield of the stevia plant was about 4.0% and has increased to about 7.0% over the years. We are delighted to announce that this season, we have achieved a minimum of 9.5% Reb A yield, with some plants as high as 12% average yield, which is the highest ever seen in the stevia industry,” said Tom Fuzer, vice-president of market strategy at HOWTIAN.
This accomplishment was significant for food and beverage manufacturers who were unable to justify the more expensive price tag of stevia, which was six to 15 times the cost of artificial sweeteners. With Project Shennong and HOWTIAN’s newest stevia variants, the cost of using stevia is approaching parity with traditional artificial sugar substitutes.
“Companies once compelled by cost constraints to choose artificial sweeteners now no longer need to compromise. We anticipate the adoption of stevia to accelerate significantly in the most price sensitive markets, including beverages, snacking and sports nutrition,” noted Fuzer.
With production capacity of 8,000 metric tons, HOWTIAN is the largest stevia manufacturer in the world.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of the industry and to lead the innovations that’ll drive mass market adoption of natural ingredient solutions like stevia,” added Fuzer.