Peruvian Stevia Farm Becomes World’s First to Achieve Rainforest Alliance Certification

November 19, 2013

The Rainforest Alliance announces 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. To achieve certification, the farm met the rigorous standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) that conserve natural resources, protect wildlife and ensure the well-being of farm families. The certification marks an important milestone in transforming the industry into a more sustainable model. stevia

“Stevia One Perú SAC sets a shining example and helps to address 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 local communities for centuries. Stevia has become widely popular in North America due to its health benefits, being calorie free and increased awareness about the detrimental effects of zero-calorie sweeteners. Recent reports suggest stevia has the potential to displace 25 percent of the global sugar demand by 2050, with major companies such as Coca-Cola Co launching brands featuring stevia.

“Stevia has zero calories and is 300 times sweeter than natural sugar,” commented Raúl Urbina Ribbeck, CEO of Stevia One Perú SAC. “We are proud to have earned the distinction of the world’s first stevia farm to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification, bringing sustainably produced stevia to the global market.”

Located in the lush forested landscape of Moyobamba Province, 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,” exclaimed Urbina Ribbeck. “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 year for each hectare of land). The farm group currently supplies its harvest to the European market, specifically Belgium, Germany and France, but plans to expand into the US market.

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ 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. The benefits of Rainforest Alliance certification have reached over 11 million people worldwide, including farmers, workers, their families and communities.