'We are building Lifeway as a global brand', says CEO


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Related tags Kefir Revenue

'We are building Lifeway as a global brand', says CEO
Record sales and a 97% control of the kefir category are only the start for Lifeway Foods, as the company states it’s ‘in the early stages of its long-term growth trajectory’.

In an earnings call, Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc., told investors that the company would stay true to its values by “providing nutritious and convenient Kefir products as we grow and expand our company and deliver record sales and earnings growth”​.

And record sales it is delivering, with the full year results indicating a 16% increase in net sales to $81.4 million, up from $70.0 million for the previous full year.

“We expect gross revenues for our first quarter 2013, which ended March 29, 2013, to be approximately 30% higher when compared to the same period in 2012, and we expect to continue this momentum throughout the year,” ​said Smolyansky.

Growth category

Lifeway controls 97% of the Kefir category, she said, with the overall yogurt and Kefir category growing over 20% in the last 52 weeks.

“Yogurt and Kefir ranked the 5th largest category across all departments and ranked first in unit sales, and the Lifeway brand is the sixth largest brand in the yogurt and Kefir up over 22% in 52 weeks according to recent IRI instant data,” ​said Smolyansky.

Brand expansions

The company was recently named one of Fortune Small Business' Fastest Growing Companies for the fifth consecutive year.

At the recent Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, the company unveiled 5 new Kefir products for all age groups, including the “revolutionary”​ Lifeway ProBugs Bites (tiny bite of freeze-dried Kefir) inspired to create a nutritious baby food option for moms.

The company also launched ProBugs Green Kefir - a yogurt-like smoothie blended with kale, broccoli, spinach cabbage and apple. Another new addition is the Lifeway ProBugs Blast, a new ProBugs lowfat smoothie with creative flavors like cherry lime targeting tweens.

Greek & Frozen!

The surge in popularity of Greek yogurt has not gone unnoticed and the company recently repositioned its Helios brand, offering a higher protein count in addition of honey as a Mediterranean flavor.

Lifeway Greek

At the recent Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim a spokesperson for the company told FoodNavigator-USA that the growth in Greek yogurt has been “great”​ for Lifeway.

“Greek yogurt is changing the American palate, and Kefir is a tart flavor,” ​she said. “The popularity of Greek yogurt has been great as far as opening up the palate.”

The company’s frozen range also “continues to be a huge success”,​ said Smolyansky.

“In addition, we began shipping Frozen ProBugs and push-up pops last year to Whole Foods and other major outlets, and we believe we can continue to grow distribution of Frozen Kefir in the US and internationally,” ​she added.

International expansion remains important for the company, with the frozen product soon to be available in the UK,

“We are excited to begin to build Lifeway as a global brand that is not only known in the U.S., but in top markets around the world as the quest for health food -- healthy food choices and probiotic food continue to grow worldwide.”

Sections of this report were obtained from a transcript from Seeking Alpha: www.SeekingAlpha.com

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