Lifeway Foods posted 24% sales growth for the first quarter as total sales increased from $11.1 million for the period ending March 31, 2008, to $13.7 million for the same period in 2009. Fresh Made Dairy contributed slightly less than $1.4 million in sales since being acquired on February 9 and is on track to exceed 2008 sales, according to a company release. Lifeway’s existing product lines grew 11% for the quarter.
Julie Smolyansky, chief executive officer of Lifeway Foods, recently told NBJ that the company was able to bounce back well from a particularly difficult fourth quarter in 2008. “In my years of working in this company--my father started the business when I was 9 years old--I’ve never seen a quarter like that. That’s not just us, it’s the whole world. Considering that, I’m very pleased with the business. We had a bounce back pretty much immediately in January.”
Edward Smolyansky, chief financial officer, talked about the company’s improved performance in a prepared statement. "We are extremely pleased with our first quarter 2009 revenue results. Given these tough economic times, the strong growth we experienced in the first quarter is a direct result of the marketing and educational initiatives we have invested in during the second half of 2008, and will serve as a strong foundation for future growth.”
Lifeway has also benefited from being in a product category that is on the rise. Natural & organic dairy sales in the U.S. increased 11% to $4.2 billion in 2008, according to NBJ estimates. Organic yogurt and kefir sales increased 9% to $937 million. Julie Smolyanksky thinks that the food industry has been able to bounce back from the recession more quickly than many others, due in part to more consumers shopping for groceries and preparing their meals as opposed to eating out. “I think food is somewhat recession proof. So maybe the recession isn’t over, maybe it’s just because we’re in a great industry. If there was any effect, I think it’s probably over for our company at least.” Lifeway Foods reported total sales of $44.5 million in 2008.
NBJ’s Healthy Kids issue will feature additional coverage of Lifeway Foods’ Pro Bugs children’s beverage, as well as complete analysis of the U.S. kids’ supplement, personal care and food markets in 2008. To order a copy of the issue, subscribe to NBJ or download a free 32-page sample issue, please click here.