S&W Seed Co. provided an update on the progress made in its stevia research and development program. The company is compiling data from its most recent field trials, during summer and fall of 2014, at various sites in the U.S, and preparing for patent applications for stevia varieties with improved taste profiles. These varieties, which will be subject to patent applications, are the product of the company's classic plant breeding program initiated in 2010. The company expects to file patent applications in October or November of 2014.
S&W believes that most companies involved in stevia have focused on production, processing, products, or other downstream uses for stevia. In fact, the company has been advised that there is only one stevia plant patent currently in effect in the United States. S&W believes there is an opportunity to revolutionize the industry by developing improved stevia varieties with unique characteristics. Over the last five years, the company's research and development team, headed by Dr. Clinton Shock and using seed lots collected by him in over his forty year career, have tested hundreds of lines of stevia. Recently, Dr. Shock's development team has successfully crossed certain lines that have produced improved taste profiles and plant mass (or potential yield) previously unknown with stevia. These new stevia varieties that are superior to current varieties used commercially for production of stevia sweeteners, including improved taste profile, a higher-yield and high Reb A content.
The Company believes that there are opportunities to monetize newly patented stevia varieties. These include licensing agreements, royalty-based agreements, or other types of transactions similar to those created by ag-biotech companies.
Mark Grewal, chief executive officer of S&W Seed Co., commented, "I am extremely proud of our stevia development team. For the past five years, they have worked to develop varieties of stevia with improved taste profiles, enhanced yield characteristics, and strong commercial viability. I believe our new varieties might have the ability to become industry standards of stevia production."