Wisdom Natural Brands, Makers of SweetLeaf Stevia, Marks 40 Years in Natural Products Industry
By Christina Caldwell -
Wednesday Sep 07, 2022
Wisdom Natural Brands, makers of SweetLeaf Stevia, the country’s oldest and most-awarded natural sweetener brand, is celebrating 40 years in business in 2022 — and it all started with a little leaf in Paraguay in 1982.
The discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. In 1981, the average daily calorie consumption in the United States was 3,200 calories per day, 1,200 calories more than the average recommended calorie intake. Much of that overconsumption was due to sugar intake, which increased in the 70s and 80s when the sugar industry paid scientists to place the blame on fat consumption for expanding American waistlines. The result was a skyrocketing obesity, soaring rates of Type 2 diabetes and a nationwide addiction to the sweet stuff — the effects of which we still see today. Jim May, founder of Wisdom Natural Brands, sought a natural way to improve quality of life.
The First to Bring Stevia to the Masses
May knew there had to be a better way. The stevia plant’s natural sweetness had the potential to naturally replace sugar without the calories, glycemic response and adverse health effects, so he brought the plant back to the United States. In the beginning, he imported healthful herbal teas from the Amazon rainforest, including whole leaf stevia (from the stevia plant) and stored them in his garage in Phoenix, Arizona.
May persuaded local health grocers to add SweetLeaf products to his lines of Wisdom of the Ancients teas they were already carrying. After many years of struggle to introduce stevia and get it accepted as a sweetener, May introduced SweetLeaf Stevia to the marketplace — a natural stevia extract that tasted great in coffee, desserts and savory applications.
In the 90s, SweetLeaf landed its first products, SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener and SweetLeaf SteviaClear liquid stevia, on the shelves of natural and specialty stores. Due to government regulations, stevia was originally sold in the supplement aisle. Today, due to May’s intrepid pursuit, stevia can be found alongside sugar and artificial sweeteners as the top all-natural sweetener option.
Some of the country’s largest sweetener manufacturers soon followed suit to create a stevia product of their own, but never matched SweetLeaf’s reputation.
Today, SweetLeaf has 38 awards for taste, including coveted honors:
Progressive Grocer Editor’s Pick Award - Organic Monk Fruit
Multiple Stevia Tasteful Awards for Organic Stevia, Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops (Vanilla Crème and Chocolate), Water Drops (Peach Mango) and SweetLeaf Stevia Extract
Global Stevia Products Award - SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener
At its core, SweetLeaf is a family business. Upon May’s passing in 2017 and wife Carol May’s passing in 2021, the stevia legacy has been taken on by the couple’s son, Michael May, who has brought the brand into the next generation with new products, brand collaborations and the roar of NASCAR.
The Next Generation
SweetLeaf has been a longtime favorite of natural foods shoppers and a staple on the shelves of retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers and many more. As more information becomes available about the adverse health effects of sugar, Michael May realized the brand’s reach had the potential to expand outside of its health food store reputation. SweetLeaf needed to reach everyone.
“As we began researching ways to reach a broader audience, it hit me that I watch speeding billboards drive around a racetrack nearly every weekend,” said SweetLeaf President Michael May. “It dawned on me that we could reach a previously untapped consumer, demonstrate our product and convert a sugar-loving audience to our product by engaging a talented NASCAR driver.”
This year, SweetLeaf partnered with NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the JTG Daugherty Racing team to have SweetLeaf as a marquee logo on Stenhouse’s No. 47 Camaro ZL1.
“We want to congratulate Wisdom Natural Brands on 40 years in the business,” Stenhouse said. “Their SweetLeaf sweeteners have zero sugars or artificial ingredients and is a healthy alternative for my family and millions of NASCAR fans. I enjoy the natural sugar alternative myself and use it for things like water, yogurt, tea, recipes and more. We look forward to continuing the health-conscious momentum and strengthening our partnership with SweetLeaf Stevia.”
The Future Looks Sweet
The future of SweetLeaf is looking sweet. The stevia market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% from 2021 to 2028 to reach a $1.11 billion market share by 2028.
The goal at SweetLeaf is the make the world a sweeter place by providing consumers with a better-for-you choice. Consumers have no need to sacrifice sweetness or great taste when they have SweetLeaf. SweetLeaf’s goal is to reach more consumers across the nation and the world to give them the sweet choice of a natural sugar alternative.
SweetLeaf has a stevia or monk fruit product to replace nearly every practical use for sugar, including:
Sweet Drops Liquid Stevia in 16 flavors, including Vanilla Crème, English Toffee, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon and Coconut.
Better Than Sugar, a 1-to-1 granulated and powdered sugar replacement that tastes, bakes and measures cup-for-cup just like sugar.
Stevia Sweetener Powder, with packet options to enjoy on-the-go or a shaker jar for a shake of sweetness on your favorite foods.
Water Drops, the perfect way to make drinking water more enticing in flavors such as Raspberry Lemonade, Mixed Berry, Peach Mango, Lemon Lime and more.
Stevia Plus, a zero-calorie, heart-healthy and keto-friendly powder available in Original, Vanilla and Caramel flavors.
Stevia Syrups, a flavor-packed, lighter addition to your breakfast routine. Great on pancakes or waffles with flavors such as Caramel, Maple, Cinnamon and Blueberry.
Monk Fruit Sweeteners, an all-natural, zero-glycemic sweetener available in liquids, flavored liquids and powered products.
SweetLeaf stevia and monk fruit products are available at Kroger Family of Companies stores nationwide, Amazon, walmart.com, natural grocers nationwide and through sweetleaf.com. To learn more about SweetLeaf and its products, visit http://www.sweetleaf.com.