SweetLeaf, Marks 40 Years of Stevia On National Coffee Day

Jim May Founder of SweetLeaf Stevia. The Father of Stevia. Founder of Wisdom Natural Brands. Father of CEO Michael May

SweetLeaf, Marks 40 Years of Stevia on National Coffee Day

SweetLeaf Stevia Clear Sweet Drops SweetLeaf Vanilla Crème For Coffee Coffee Sweeteners

In celebration of National Coffee Day, SweetLeaf is announcing 40 years since bringing stevia to the United States in 1982.

SweetLeaf National Coffee Day 40th Anniversary

We couldn't have picked a better day than National Coffee Day to announce this milestone anniversary. Since 80% of our consumers use SweetLeaf products in coffee, we are giving out free SweetLeaf Stevia at local coffee shops in Gilbert, Arizona (SweetLeaf's headquarters) today to thank our community and customers for sharing a special part of your day with us: your daily coffee ritual. The smell of fresh coffee and first sip after you add SweetLeaf to your cup is a moment we share with you each day, and we want to say thank you for continuing to live the sweet life with us. 

Wisdom Natural Brands, makers of SweetLeaf Stevia, the country’s first and most-awarded natural sweetener brand, is marking this milestone anniversary of 40 years of stevia in the United States on National Coffee Day— and it all started with a little leaf in Paraguay.

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 and too much was coming from sugar. The result was 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

Jim May Founder of SweetLeaf Stevia SweetLeaf Monk Fruit Jim May Michael May SweetLeaf

JIM MAY, Founder of SweetLeaf and Wisdom Natural Brands

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. This year marks 40 years since May 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.

Jim May and Carol May, Michael May CEO SweetLeaf early childhood photo

Carol May, Jim May and their Children. Now Son Michael May, (bottom left) is the President and CEO of Wisdom Natural Brands. 

The Original Stevia Products

In the 90's, SweetLeaf landed its first products, SweetLeaf Stevia Powder 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 and innovation, including coveted from Progressive Grocer, Tasteful Awards and Global Stevia Products.

A Family Run Business For 40 Years with a Brand New Look

SweetLeaf New packaging for SweetLeaf Stevia SweetLeaf redux SweetLeaf Rebrand Robby Smith designer


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 Lemon Sweet Drops SweetLeaf Valencia Orange SweetDrops SweetLeaf Stevia packets

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.

“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 Wisdom Natural Brands President Michael May. “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.”

Our Passion is to bring better-for-you sweetness to everyone

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SweetLeaf Stevia Sweeteners and Kroger Racing with JTG Racing. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stevia sweetener sponorships

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.
SweetLeaf stevia and monk fruit products are available at Kroger Family of Companies, Walmart, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Publix,, Amazon,, and through sweetleaf.com. To learn more about SweetLeaf and its products, visit sweetleaf.com.


SweetLeaf Sweetener Products SweetLeaf Stevia Packets SweetLeaf Coffee Sweetener
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