Branded kefir manufacturer Biotiful Gut Health is seeking a pick-up in volume momentum with an expansion into non-dairy expected to provide a further fillip.

Set up in 2012 by Natasha Bowes as Biotiful, the UK company has switched its identify to Biotiful Gut Health to reflect its credentials in a category that marketing chief Vince Lawson said is “starting to become a macro-trend”.

The business shifted beyond cultured drinks, yogurt and quark in January with a move into the ambient sector, introducing a three-strong range of prebiotic and fibre-rich Meal Boosters. Biotiful Gut Health is testing consumer appetite first through the direct-to-consumer channel before launching the product in retail.

Lawson said the company is seeing “positive results” so far but stressed kefir remains the key growth driver for the business, with volumes holding up despite the pressure on people’s purse strings for premium products.

“The decision to launch Meal Boosters wasn’t based on faltering sales or reduced growth within kefir, that’s very much still going at pace and we’re still very much driving the growth within that category,” Lawson explained.

“Ultimately, we still have continued to grow in both volume and value over the past 12 months. We’re still seeing the volume piece continue to ramp up and from a volume perspective we’ve just had our biggest month ever in January and we are not seeing that slowdown as we head into February.”

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By GlobalData

Quoting market data, Lawson said the UK kefir category is worth around £81m ($102m) and is growing around 30% a year as a whole. He suggested Biotiful Gut Health is the “number one kefir brand” in the country, with growth in the segment outpacing the protein category.

“We had the vision to go beyond the dairy category in our mission of making gut health accessible,” Lawson added. “It felt prudent and the right time to evolve and really start to establish our name as Biotiful Gut Health as we were really starting to gain the penetration and distribution of the brand.”

As well as all the major UK retailers, the company has listings in France with MonoPrix, in the Netherlands through Albert Heijn and is also present in Belgium.

“We’re continually focusing on new opportunities to expand further internationally as the gut-health trend seems to be moving beyond the UK into continental Europe amid a growing understanding of the category,” Lawson said.

In the face of pressure on household budgets, Biotiful Gut Health recognises the increasing importance of offering quality products to ensure repeat rates and maintain an edge over competitors, new and old.

“Ultimately, when it comes to the economic environment at the moment, we are very conscious that we need to provide products that are the highest quality, whilst being healthy and natural. And combining that with taste because consumers are looking for products that deliver on both but also at an accessible price point,” Lawson explained.

The marketing chief was reluctant to share any details on Biotiful Gut Health’s sales figures or the expected contribution this year from the vitamin-fortified Meal Boosters.

“Kefir and dairy is our core business for now, that’s where we see the immediate growth continuing to come from,” Lawson said. “There is a massive opportunity within the ambient space and we do have big ambitions.”