Kefir products are globally becoming a trendy alternative to traditional dairy products. Kefir is a fermented milk drink, traditionally made using cow or goat milk.

Although Kefir is classed as a dairy product, its digestive health benefits and trendy positioning almost make it considered a ‘dairy alternative’.  What makes Kefir so attractive to consumers, especially in recent years, is its fermentation process, which ultimately means that Kefir contains probiotics or ‘healthy bacteria’.

The health and wellness trend has gained significant importance in the consumer sphere, especially in the dairy market, where many consumers have begun moving away from dairy and opting for plant-based alternatives. GlobalData’s latest survey (Q1-2021), globally, highlights that 60% of consumers chose health as a key driver when asked their reasons for consuming plant-based products over dairy. In recent years, the dairy market has gained an unfavourable narrative of products carrying negative health benefits, with a rise in veganism also playing a part.

Although Kefir still contains animal milk, its unique positioning has the potential to alter the current negative perceptions of traditional dairy beverage types. Kefir has been reported to improve digestion, promote bone health and reduce inflammation, making it an attractive dairy choice for those who are trying to improve their digestive health and wellbeing.

However, it is important for traditional dairy companies to stay ahead of their competition from plant-based manufacturers, with grain-nut rice and seed alternative products representing a growing threat due to its health-halo and sustainable farming positioning.

Nevertheless, Kefir innovations over the last few years have been rife. Living Drinks launched its Redeem branded Keifr Soda Probiotic in New Zealand in 2019 with ginger, yuzu charcola and raspberry hibiscus variants, combining kefir cultures with sparkling water. In the UK, Bio-Tiful Dairy launched a slurpy drinkable kefir yoghurt targeting the child segment, and in the US, GT’S Living Foods released a sparkling probiotic drink positioned as dairy-free kefir water with all the probiotic benefits. These launches represent something that has never been done before by combining both dairy kefir and plant-based kefir innovations with soft drinks products in some cases.

The long-term future is bright for Kefir, especially in markets such as the UK, with brands such as Bio-Tiful Dairy having launched its gut-friendly Kefir Yoghurt in February 2021 by combining British milk with calcium, vitamin B12 and no added sugar.

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