Kefir Meets Today’s Trends
With consumer trends in functional foods and beverages, ready-to-eat snacks, and traditional fermented products like kombucha, the time is right for kefir. And with the uptick in interest around immune health due to COVID-19, this probiotic-rich beverage has more potential than ever for expansion as consumers seek ways to stay healthy.
The Global Kefir Market
With the global kefir market forecast to reach a high growth rate by 2027, the U.S. and Western Europe have been identified as key growth markets.1 Major companies in the space include Lifeway, Nourish Kefir, Danone, and Nestle, though small-scale, artisan-style kefir manufacturers continue to emerge. In Eastern Europe and Russia, kefir remains popular as a traditional beverage due to its origins in that region.
What is Kefir?
Like drinkable yogurt, kefir is a cultured milk beverage made from whole, lowfat, or nonfat milk, typically fortified with a custom premix of vitamins A and D. Both products are known for their tart dairy flavor, high protein and calcium levels, and probiotic bacterial cultures.
But unlike yogurt, kefir is cultured with bacteria and yeast—just like kombucha. The use of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (abbreviated SCOBY) is why kefir has far greater probiotic diversity than yogurt. For example, a commercial kefir may contain ten to twenty different live active probiotic cultures, compared with four to six for yogurt.