couple driking kefir on balcony

What's Trending with Kefir in 2021?

Surging interest in immune system health has put a spotlight on probiotic products. Here we explore the growth in the global kefir market and the top trends in kefir expected for 2021.

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.

kefir grains milk jug and glass on table

The SCOBY used to make kefir, known as “kefir grains,” can even be used to ferment water, provided the water is sweetened first. When the fermentation is complete, the milk kefir or water kefir is strained to remove the kefir grains, producing an effervescent, probiotic-rich beverage. According to global product launch details from Mintel, probiotic and digestive claims are more common than immunity of stress/sleep functional claims to date.2 

Kefir Trends for 2021

As word gets out about the best foods and beverages for boosting immunity, kefir is sure to make the list. Here are some exciting trends in kefir products that have high growth potential in the upcoming year:

1. Kefir for Kids

According to survey data from Mintel, nearly 40% of US yogurt/yogurt drink users say that it is important to include fermented foods & beverages in your diet. This rises to nearly half (48%) among parents of under-4s and 43% of parents of 5-11 year olds.3 Kefir products for kids like Lifeway’s ProBugs Kefir, which comes in squeeze pouches and features flavors like Goo-berry and Strawnana, make a strong appeal to parents as a healthy choice for their kids. The Collective’s Kefir Probots, also in single-serve squeeze pouches, are fortified with fiber and boast no added sugars.

2. Grass-Fed Kefir

Consumer trends in responsibly sourced foods that respect animals and the environment continue to drive growth in grass-fed dairy products. Grass-fed has expanded beyond milk to include ice cream, yogurt, and now kefir. Expect the grass-fed claim to continue to be an important feature for the conscious consumer. 

3. Coconut Water Kefir

Coconut water kefir makes a delicious dairy-free alternative to milk kefir. Tapping into the coconut water trend, Inner-Eco offers its You Gut This Probiotic Coconut Water cultured with kefir grains. Available in Original Unsweetened, Blueberry Blackberry, Mango Pineapple, and Vanilla Bean, these fizzy coconut waters can also satisfy the sparkling water consumer. 

4. Frozen Kefir Desserts

Consumers’ interest in healthy indulgence represents an opportunity for kefir in the frozen dessert aisle. Like frozen yogurt—but with more probiotics—frozen kefir can be found in pints, as bars, and even as soft-serve. This emerging area aligns well with the trend in better-for-you ice cream.

scoop of kefir

5. Spoonable Kefir

Kefir can also be a ready-to-eat snack. As a food rather than a beverage, spoonable kefir can go head-to-head with yogurt, delivering on protein and calcium while outperforming on probiotics. Spoonable kefir, available from Lifeway, The Collective, Yeo Valley, and more, promises to give yogurt a run for its money in 2021.

Functional Nutrition for a Healthier Future

As consumers continue to look for ways to boost their health and immunity, nutritious and functional foods will be on their minds. Kefir and other dairy-based food and beverages rich in protein, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals have a bright future in today’s market provided they’re delicious and convenient.

We offer a wide range of dairy-based proteins, bioactive ingredients, micronutrients, and custom premix solutions to help support your consumers’ health and immunity. Contact us to find out how we can assist you with your next product formulation. 

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References

1. DataM Intelligence. Kefir Market, Size, Share, Opportunities and Forecast, 2020-2027. Retrieved from https://www.datamintelligence.com/research-report/gkefir-market
2. Mintel, What’s next for fermented foods, September 2020.
3. Mintel, Kefir enters the mainstream, February 2019.

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