Evolva, Cargill consummate partnership, move ahead with stevia production

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In Nebraska, Evolva and Cargill have signed an agreement to build capacity for the sweetener stevia using Evolva’s fermentation-based technology. The product, dubbed EverSweet, is expected to hit shelves in 2018. The two companies first partnered on stevia-based sweeteners in 2012.

Under the terms of the deal, Evolva will receive up to 30% of the business, depending on the strain efficiencies it achieves, but will not receive any additional milestone payments from Cargill. It also has the right to ask Cargill to support some of its “early cashflow commitments” at a favorable interest rate.

A fermentation facility at Cargill’s Blair, Nebraska site will be retrofitted to EverSweet production. Cargill will operate the plant. Evolva will build and operate a biobased nootkatone and resveratrol plant on adjacent land leased from Cargill. Production at that plant is expected to begin in 2019. The facilities are expected to have sufficient capacity to generate an estimated $50 million-plus in annual revenues for Evolva.

Demand for stevia sweetener has grown as consumers look for natural alternatives to other low-calorie sweeteners, but extraction from the stevia plant has both taste and scalability issues. Evolva’s fermentation process produces larger quantities of desirable compounds Reb M and Reb D, which are only found in small quantities in the stevia leaf. EverSweet also delivers “better sweetness intensity, faster sweetness onset and improved sweetness quality—without the bitterness or off-note aftertaste common to existing stevia sweeteners.”

Evolva estimates the total addressable market for Eversweet to be worth around $4 billion. It expects to invest an additional $60 million in additional production in 2018-2019.