Evolva signs 'major' stevia agreement with Cargill

5 Apr 2017

Evolva has entered what it describes as a major collaboration agreement with Cargill for the production and commercialisation of EverSweet, its next-generation stevia sweetener, which will launch next year.

Evolva signs 'major' stevia agreement with Cargill

Evolva has entered what it describes as a major collaboration agreement with Cargill for the production and commercialisation of EverSweet, its next-generation stevia sweetener. This product is on track for a 2018 launch.

EverSweet is claimed to solve both the stevia taste and Reb M & Reb D scalability challenges, and is brewed to produce large quantities of Reb M and Reb D. The stevia leaf contains only minute quantities of these ingredients. EverSweet is also said to deliver 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 to be worth around $4 billion.

Evolva will receive up to 30% of the EverSweet business, determined as a function of the strain efficiencies achieved. Evolva has the right to ask Cargill to support some of Evolva’s early cashflow commitments at a favourable interest rate. However, under the new agreement, Evolva will not receive any further milestone payments from Cargill.

EverSweet next generation sweetener will initially be produced at a fermentation facility on Cargill’s Blair, Nebraska campus that will be retrofitted for this purpose. The facility will be operated by Cargill and additionally be used for the fermentation of other Evolva products. In parallel, Evolva will build and operate a new bioprocessing facility on adjacent land leased from Cargill. This bioprocessing facility will manufacture Evolva products such as nootkatone and resveratrol and is expected to come online in 2019. Together, this integrated infrastructure will provide Evolva with a global hub for the production of high value specialty ingredients.

“EverSweet is coming to market, and given it succeeds as we expect it to, Evolva will see 30% of the upside whilst mitigating some of our initial cash outflows,” said Evolva CEO Neil Goldsmith. “Plus our planned US production hub, working alongside Cargill, provides the foundation for truly scaleable, low cost, high quality, production for Evolva’s other key products.”

The production strategy is said to provide a de-risked route for Evolva to establish its own low cost production of specialty ingredients through its collaboration with Cargill. Locating these operations in Blair, Nebraska also allows Evolva to leverage and access key resources such as Cargill’s centralised infrastructure, a skilled local labour pool, and a long-term supply of renewable resources from US farm inputs (corn, in particular). A number of producers like Novozymes, Corbion and Evonik operate on the same Cargill campus in Blair.

Once completed, the Blair production facilities will play a pivotal role in accelerating the reduction of the cost-of-goods-sold for Evolva’s products, increasing the company’s long-term profitability. The facilities are expected to have sufficient capacity to generate an estimated $million-plus in annual product revenues for Evolva, over and above Evolva’s share of EverSweet profits, and provide room for further expansion.

Over the next three years, principally in 2018 and 2019, Evolva expects to invest an estimated $60 million in the combined fermentation and bioprocessing facilities for EverSweet and its other products. The recent CHF30 million equity commitment from Yorkville serves as a foundation for this investment and Evolva expects to secure an additional project financing package of around CHF30 million by end 2017, which will enable full execution of the plans.