UK supermarket chain Tesco is expecting kefir to be one of the major food and beverage trends for 2020, after sales soared last year.
Demand for the once-niche dairy product surged by 400 per cent in the last 18 months, with health conscious consumers intrigued by the probiotic qualities of the yoghurt-like milk drink.
“Shoppers are really switching on to gut-health and demand for kefir is now so strong that in the last few years we have nearly doubled our range and we have plans to add more this year,” Tesco Dairy Drinks buyer Vicky Smith said.
“Its popularity has been building, mainly by word of mouth, on a monthly basis to the extent that we now stock seven different drinks as well as four yoghurt variants.”
Kefir originated in Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus Mountains, where about 2000 years ago shepherds noticed that the milk in their leather sacks fermented when exposed to the yeasts and bacteria in the air.
Tesco introduced the product as part of its Polish offering in the early 00s, but believes word of mouth has fuelled demand in recent years.
There are now nearly 10 dedicated kefir manufacturers in the UK.