Lifeway Foods Inc, (Nasdaq: LWAY), a supplier of kefir cultured dairy products, has announced the $7.4 million acquisition of the Golden Guernsey dairy plant in Waukesha WI, to provide additional manufacturing capacity for its growing kefir-based business.
Adding the 170,000-square-foot plant to Lifeway’s 50,000-sq-ft facility in Morton Grove IL will more than quadruple the company’s production capacity and provide much-needed expansion abilities.
The Golden Guernsey plant was shuttered this past January after a bankruptcy filing, leaving 112 employees without jobs. Lifeway plans to reopen the plant in summer 2013 and rehire a portion of the workforce to staff the facility. The transaction is expected to close June 10.
Lifeway’s growth has been fueled in part by the natural foods movement as well as awareness of the health benefits of probiotic products such as kefir. Sales of probiotic foods and supplements jumped 79% over the past two years, settling at $2.25 billion in July 2012, according to natural foods market research firm SPINS. Organic food sales in the United States alone jumped from $11 billion in 2004 to $27 billion in 2012, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, with growth in conventional grocery stores as well as natural foods markets.
Diversification of Lifeway’s product portfolio has also contributed, with innovations ranging from ProBugs organic kefir drinks for children to the market’s first packaged frozen kefir. The company’s newest products include freeze-dried Lifeway ProBugs Bites for infants, other new ProBugs varieties for older children, frozen kefir bars, and a Greek kefir line featuring extra protein.
Lifeway Kefir is a dairy beverage that contains 10 live and active probiotic cultures plus ProBoost. The company also produces a variety of frozen kefir and probiotic cheese products. Lifeway sells frozen kefir, kefir smoothies and kefir parfaits through its Starfruit retail stores.
Access www.kefir.com for more information.