The Stevia One Perú SAC farm in northern Peru has earned Rainforest Alliance certification, becoming the world’s first stevia farm to earn the distinction, according to an announcement today by Rainforest Alliance. The farm met the rigorous standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), conserving natural resources, protecting wildlife and ensuring the well-being of farm families to earn the certification, which marks an important milestone in increasing the sustainability of the industry.
“Stevia One Perú SAC sets a shining example and helps to addresses global consumer demand for sustainably produced goods,” commented Freddy Peña, regional certification manager of the Rainforest Alliance for South America. “By expanding its reach to cover new crops, the Rainforest Alliance continues its efforts to bring tangible benefits to the lands and lives of farming communities worldwide.”
Also known as sweet leaf, stevia is a bush that grows naturally in Peru and other South American countries, where it has been consumed by locals for centuries. 300 times sweeter than sugar, Stevia has become a widely popular sweetener in North America due to its health benefits, being calorie free and increased awareness about the detrimental effects of artificial sweeteners. Recent reports suggest stevia has the potential to displace 25 percent of global sugar demand by 2050, with major companies such as Coca-Cola launching brands sweetened with stevia.
Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms meet the comprehensive environmental, social and economic standards of the SAN. Certified farms curb deforestation, conserve soil and water, minimize use of pesticides, reduce waste and provide habitat for wildlife. Workers benefit from safe work conditions, just wages, respectable housing and access to healthcare and education for their children. Rainforest Alliance says the benefits of its certification have reached over 11 million farmers, workers, families and communities worldwide.
Located in the lush Moyobamba Province in Peru’s San Marín Region, Stevia One Perú SAC includes three farms covering 1,853 acres of land (750 hectares). As part of the certification process, the farm group worked to restore the land through reforestation and improved soil health by investing in irrigation and an organic fertilizer system. The farm also ensures the welfare of its 520 permanent workers and provides salary and wages above the national average.
“It has been an honor to lead our farm group on the path to certification, adopting comprehensive standards for sustainability that have helped to improve the quality of life for our workers and neighboring communities, as well as the environment.” said Raúl Urbina Ribbeck, CEO of Stevia One Perú SAC. “Now we have the challenge of integrating this new approach into our company philosophy, ensuring these practices become a part of our daily routine and developing monitoring tools to keep track of our progress.”
Stevia One Perú& SAC produces an average of 54,300 pounds of fresh leaf per year for each acre of land (22,000 pounds per hectare per year). The farm group currently supplies its harvest to the European market, specifically Belgium, Germany and France, but plans to expand into the U.S. market.
In February, stevia brand Truvia announced it had earned carbon footprint certification from the Carbon Trust, having reduced its carbon dioxide-equivalent per metric ton of “sweet” produced by 35 percent due to improvements made in the leaf-extraction process within two years of initiating its sustainability program. Truvia worked with the Carbon Trust to certify its carbon footprint and verify its waste and water footprints throughout its supply chain as part of an action plan to become carbon neutral by 2020.