US cultured dairy product maker Lifeway Foods has reported a 26% increase in sales for the third quarter to 30 September.

Sales increased to US$5.19m from $4.14m during the same period a year ago. For the nine months to 30 September, sales rose 23% to $14.9m, compared to $12.1m for the same period in 2004.

"During the third quarter we were able to achieve new milestones and new distribution opportunities for our products that in previous years were not available. We have started to test market our kefir in club-store channels, restaurant food service, and most recently, an opportunity to offer kefir to an in-patient hospital healthcare setting based on the probiotic benefit that Lifeway Kefir may offer to populations undergoing antibiotic treatment. While most of these opportunities are limited, it offers Lifeway the chance to service new channels while advancing our shelf space and increased purchase orders in traditional grocer stores and natural food stores nationwide," said Julie Smolyansky, Lifeway's CEO.

"We are very comfortable about the future growth of the company. In the coming months, we have a wide variety of new and exciting products that we will bring to market, and this, along with the continuing acceptance of our Kefir drinks, should help fuel our growth," added CFO Edward Smolyansky.