BELLINGHAM, WASH. – Sweet Green Fields has opened a 160,000-square-foot extraction facility in China that will allow the company to double its production of Rebaudioside A, a high-intensity sweetener extracted from the stevia plant. The company’s Reb-A 97% is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose and has zero calories.

"This new facility will allow food and beverage companies that may be seeking a large, reliable U.S.-based supply source of Reb-A to purchase locally," said Mike Quin, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Bellingham-based Sweet Green Fields.

Sweet Green Fields provides formulation assistance to customers through its scientific staff.  The company already has formulated no-sugar-added candy, colas, chocolate, cookies, ice cream and teas.

Reb-A 97% is self-affirmed Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), according to Sweet Green Fields. The Food and Drug Administration issued a no-objection letter to a GRAS filing for other Rebaudioside A sweeteners in December. Sweet Green Fields’ Reb-A 97% exceeds those specifications, according to the company.  

Sweet Green Fields does not use enzymatic or chemical modification of the glycosides to yield Reb-A. Although some portions of the extraction process are proprietary, the company uses pure water to soak the stevia leaves and then presses the wet leaves to extract out the sweet juices.

"The secret to our proprietary method of extraction is that we do not use a complicated multi-step process," said Mel C. Jackson, vice-president for Science for Sweet Green Fields and inventor of the company’s extraction processes. "When you fully understand how something works and can then adjust the process in a very careful way, you are going to come out with a very good product."

Sweet Green Fields runs a vertically integrated supply chain that operates in three continents.