WESTCHESTER, ILL. – Ingredion, Inc. and S&W Seed Co. have entered into an exclusive pilot production supply agreement for stevia production in the United States. Most stevia production occurs outside the United States because of historical constraints with climate and harvesting techniques.

Under the agreement, S&W Seed Co., a global integrated agricultural seed technology company, will leverage its proprietary stevia plant portfolio and production techniques to supply Ingredion and its PureCircle by Ingredion subsidiary with US-sourced stevia plants.

“This agreement strengthens our ability to provide sugar reduction solutions for our customers by diversifying our supply of sustainably sourced stevia in the US,” said Jeremy Xu, senior vice president and chief innovation officer at Ingredion. “This agreement with S&W will allow us to evaluate the long-term opportunity to produce large quantities of stevia in the US effectively.”

Stevia, a zero-calorie plant-based sweetener, is up to 350 times sweeter than sugar and is found in more than 30,000 food and beverage products globally.

“Recently, we have made what we believe is a significant leap forward by validating efficacy of stevia production in the southeastern US,” said Mark Wong, chief executive officer of S&W Seed Co., Longmont, Colo. “By leveraging a unique seed-to-plant process and mechanical harvesting system, we expect to dramatically reduce overall production costs. Importantly, this method is intended to allow the stevia to function as a green cover crop, helping to sequester carbon. We are excited to enter into this pilot production supply agreement with the world’s largest stevia ingredient producer, PureCircle by Ingredion, to further validate and expand upon our capabilities to date.”