Lifeway Foods acquires biggest kefir competitor

by Staff
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MORTON GROVE, ILL. — Lifeway Foods, Inc., a supplier of kefir, has acquired Helios Nutrition Ltd., its top competitor in the kefir market with a No. 2 overall market share and a No. 1 position in the organic category. The total purchase price for the acquisition was $8 million.

According to the company, the acquisition strengthens Lifeway’s presence in the market for organic dairy products, provides a steady supply of organic milk through Helios’ organic dairy subsidiary, and is expected to provide cost efficiencies by pooling the purchase of raw materials.

"The major catalyst behind this acquisition is the growing demand for organic dairy products," said Julie Smolyansky, chief executive officer of Lifeway Foods. "We now have the No. 1 share in this market, combining both the top Helios brand and our own very strong organic s.k.u.s."

Ms. Smolyansky also said the acquisition will open up Minnesota, an important kefir market, which is loyal to the Sauk Centre, Minn., based Helios.

For the time being, Helios brand kefir will continue to be manufactured in Helios’ existing 25,000-square-foot facility, under Lifeway’s direction. All Helios employees will be retained and Helios managers will be employed as consultants.

Lifeway said the transition to manufacturing of the Helios organic kefir line into its own Illinois facility will take place by the end of 2006.

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