Paraguayan Chamber of Stevia, CAPASTE, recently honored Wisdom Natural Brands founder and CEO James May with an award of gratitude and recognition for successfully launching stevia as a natural, zero-calorie, zero-carbohydrate sweetener in the U.S. Stevia has contributed to the growth in the global sweetener market as the demand for sugar alternatives grow. Latin American economies have benefited from May’s contributions to the nearly billion-dollar industry, according to Wisdom Natural Brands.
Earlier this month in Asunción, Paraguay, CAPASTE President Juan Barboza presented a plaque and a lapel pin made exclusively for May, whose Gilbert, Ariz.-based company is the parent of the SweetLeaf stevia brand.
“The plaque and the lapel pin are just our way of expressing how much we respect James May,” said Gustavo Rodriguez, Paraguay’s Minister of Industry. “They are symbols of the friendship between Mr. May and his fellows from Paraguay.”
May said, “I am extremely honored to receive this recognition from CAPASTE. When I brought stevia into the United States in 1982, it was unheard of in the United States and Europe as a natural sweetener, and government regulations made the herb difficult to market. I’m pleased that, after decades of efforts, stevia is now a household name throughout the Americas and Europe. In Paraguay, stevia is known as Ka’a He’ê—or ‘sweet herb.’ We celebrated that history and translation by naming the brand SweetLeaf.
“World demand is growing rapidly for high-quality stevia sweet glycosides, both as a commercial sweetener and as a tabletop sweetener,” May added. “I firmly believe that stevia can change the world by improving the health and well-being of everyone who will use it regularly and eliminate artificial sweeteners and reduce sugar from their diets. Stevia offers incredible health benefits to people wise enough to use it daily.”
SweetLeaf is sold in more than 30 countries. May’s commitment to making stevia a leading natural replacement for sugar and artificial sweeteners has created jobs worldwide and has contributed greatly to Latin America’s emerging economy. May is considered a pioneer in the natural foods industry and a global expert on stevia.
“Because I could foresee the potential of stevia, we have focused our attention on it as a health-generating sweetener since 1995,” May said. “However, since I am also the person who introduced yerba maté, lapacho (pau d’arco), stevia leaves and stevia concentrate, as well as other Paraguayan herbs to the North American market, we are going to return to promoting them this year.”
In the feature photo at top: James May, founder and CEO of Wisdom Natural Brands, receives his award from CAPASTE President Juan Barboza.