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Lifeway Foods, Inc., a leading 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 existing 50,000-square-foot 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 following a bankruptcy filing, leaving 112 employees without jobs. Lifeway plans to reopen the plant this summer and rehire a portion of the workforce to staff the facility. The transaction is expected to close on June 10.
Lifeway’s growth has been fueled in part by the burgeoning natural foods movement as well as mounting awareness of the health benefits of probiotic products like kefir. Sales of probiotic foods and supplements jumped 79 percent over the past two years, settling at US$2.25 billion in July 2012, according to data from natural foods market research company SPINS. Organic food sales in the U.S. 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.