Obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic levels worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that in 2005, 217 million people worldwide had diabetes. By 2030, the WHO has predicted that this number will increase to at least 366 million people.
In the United States, a 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination study concluded that 64.5% of US adults were either overweight or obese, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more.
Many believe that one of the causes of this epidemic is the amount of sugar that is consumed, leading food and beverage manufacturers to seek out alternatives to sugar.
In 2011, according to market researcher Mintel, the market for the sugar substitutes had reached $6 billion. One of the fastest growing alternatives to sugar is stevia, a natural sweetener that is derived from a plant native to Central and South America.
Stevia First Corporation is a development stage agricultural biotechnology company, headquartered in California’s Central Valley, that is primarily engaged in developing novel, proprietary methods and fermentation technologies for the industrial production of stevia, an alternative sweetener.
The company is intent on further developing these production methods in order to commercialise them at an industrial scale in order to sell stevia extract directly to multinational food, beverage, and ingredient companies.