top of page

Move Over Sugar Cane, Florida has a Sweet New Crop!

In this week's North American Ag Spotlight Chrissy Wozniak sits down with Ricardo Reyes who serves as Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing, Quality, and R&D for Heartland Food Products Group, owner of the iconic Splenda® Brand. Ricardo shares the story of Florida's newest crop - their stevia farm located north of Tampa. It all started over 20 years ago when they began investing in the natural breeding of stevia plants. Plant A and Plant B are cross-pollinated by bees and their seeds are tested for strong agricultural properties and, of course, the sweetest and best tasting sugars, called glycosides. The process is repeated until they had the best stevia plants and the best-tasting combinations of stevia glycosides, sweet and without bitterness. They then take cuttings from those mother plants and propagate them over and over again, growing roots from the cuttings, creating more versions of the same plant. This gives a consistency of sweetness from acre to acre. An all-natural process, without genetic engineering.

Ricardo is an experienced Food Processing Engineer, holds a Master of Science in Product Design and Development from Northwestern University, and is a noteworthy leader in the food & beverage industry. Ricardo’s passion to help people reduce sugar has led him to develop the best-tasting Splenda products and the innovative farming process at Splenda Stevia Farms. Included in his areas of expertise are sugar reduction, coffee processing, and thermally processed beverages, of which he is credited with holding two patents, one for a unique coffee cold brew extraction process and one for a heat exchanger design for aseptically processed purees. Over recent years, Ricardo’s leadership over Manufacturing and R&D has expanded the Splenda® Brand beyond sweeteners into other product lines, including Splenda Coffee Creamers, Splenda Diabetes Care Shakes, Splenda Sweet Teas and more.

Based outside of Indianapolis, Heartland Food Products Group is a global leader in the production of low-calorie sweetener products, creamers, beverage concentrates, coffee, and nutritional drinks. Heartland is on a mission to help people live happier, healthier and longer lives by making it easier to reduce sugar through its delicious, low-calorie sweeteners. The Splenda® Brand is the most recognizable and iconic low-calorie sweetener ("LCS") brand in the world, having sold more than 100 billion yellow packets since its launch in 1991. Today, the Splenda Brand is the clear #1 LCS brand in the USA. Splenda is the name for great tasting, low calorie foods and beverages. Its line features a range of products including low-calorie sweetener products, natural sweeteners such as Splenda Stevia Sweeteners and Splenda Monk Fruit Sweeteners, Splenda Coffee Creamers, Splenda Diabetes Care Shakes, Splenda Sweet Teas and more. To learn more, visit Heartland at and Splenda at


North American Ag is devoted to highlighting the people & companies in agriculture who impact our industry and help feed the world. Subscribe at

This episode is sponsored by AMS Galaxy - BRINGING PRECISION DAIRY EQUIPMENT TO THE AMERICAN FARMER. Spend more time doing what you love. Use technology to your advantage. Visit


NAA Sidebar Ads (1).png
WIA Summit 24 1080x1080 banner.jpg
Feeding the world in style.png
bottom of page