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Lifeway Foods was founded in 1986 by Michael Smolyansky. Julie Smolyansky is currently the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer. Lifeway develops specialty functional dairy foods for health-conscious consumers, producing a series of distinctive probiotic products based on unique ingredients and proprietary formulations. The Company's main product is Kefir, a milk-based cultured drink which is more nutritional than yogurt.
The company's foundation product is Kefir - a creamy probiotic dairy beverage similar to but distinct from yogurt. Lifeway believes it offers the largest selection of kefir in the world. Low-fat or non-fat pasteurized milk is the basic ingredient in kefir. Its effervescent quality stems from the kefir culture, which contains seven active "friendly" microorganisms, compared to two or three in yogurt. Kefir also has more beneficial cultures than other fermented milk products, such as yogurt or buttermilk, and is an ideal milk substitute for infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, convalescents and elderly. It is a good remedy for digestive problems, and is particularly good in reestablishing necessary intestinal microflora, which may have been destroyed by antibiotic or other medical treatment. Lifeway's Kefir is available in 32-ounce bottles found in the dairy section of supermarkets, grocery stores, gourmet shops, delicatessens, and convenience stores.
The product comes in 12 flavors. The company positions kefir as a health food, and does not expect sales volume to vary throughout the year. Additionally, Lifeway produces Drinkable Yogurt (a line of yogurt drinks distinct from kefir); Farmer's Cheese (a line of soft, unripened cheeses) and Basics Plus, a kefir-based dietary supplement with concentrated extracts of Colostrum, which can enhance performance of the immune system. Sixty percent of the Company's sales are kefir and drinkable yogurt with the remainder being cheese-based products. Lifeway's marketing promotes the verifiable nutritional characteristics, purity of product, and digestibility of its Kefir and kefir-based products. America's dietary trend to lower calories, fat and cholesterol intake has led Lifeway to develop the world's first line of Fat Free Kefir and Fat Free Farmer Cheese.
Lifeway is at the forefront of specialty dairy and functional foods. The distinctiveness of its products, and further broadening of product lines have led to rapid market penetration and expanded distribution. Future fast growth should continue as a result of: National distribution through major supermarket and distributor acceptance of company's products. The uniqueness of its product, kefir, for which no comparable product exists in the U.S. (Some other producers label their products as kefir, while they have no more cultures than a typical yogurt.) Expansion of product lines, including Kefir, Drinkable Yogurt, Farmer's Cheese and Basics Plus. Increased production capacity from the new Morton Grove plant. High margins through specialty product mix and tight cost controls. High and sustainable level of interest in health and fitness among Americans. New product introductions, more distributors and acquisitions should continue to fuel the growing demand for the company's products.
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