INDIANAPOLIS — Splenda, the no. 1 low-calorie sweetener brand and its parent company, Heartland Food Products Group have officially announced the opening of Splenda Stevia Farm: the first-ever fully integrated, U.S.-based stevia farm.
Now fully operational in Central Florida, the farm aims to produce superior tasting stevia sweetener, while building an emerging U.S. 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 Splenda to domestically produce the best-tasting Splenda Stevia products and other Splenda sweetened foods and beverages.
"At Splenda, our mission is to help people live happier, healthier and longer lives by making it easier to reduce sugar. By growing higher-quality stevia plants and producing better and sweeter-tasting stevia sweeteners, we can help consumers achieve their sugar reduction goals," said Ted Gelov, chairman and CEO of Heartland. "Additionally, by growing stevia in the U.S., we are helping to build a new American agriculture industry and bring more farming jobs and economic prosperity to Central Florida with this $50 million initial investment.
"Until now, all stevia has been grown and processed from markets outside the U.S., 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% 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 U.S., 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 and beverages. The result is sweetness without bitterness, giving consumers high-quality and more importantly, great tasting low-calorie sweeteners grown by U.S. 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 R&D, Heartland Food Products. "Splenda has been investing in the natural breeding of stevia plants for more than 20 years, producing stevia plants with a variety of flavor profiles that can be used to develop customized sweetener blends."