Kefir maker Lifeway Foods posted a 24% increase in consolidated sales for the first quarter of 2009, boosted by marketing and educational initiatives.

For the quarter ended 31 March, sales reached US$13.7m from $11.1m in 2008.

CFO Edward Smolyansky said: “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 last week posted a loss of US$733,647 for 2008 as charges on marketable securities offset rising sales.

However, the company said it would be able to deduct the loss on its tax return this year as capital gains generated on those marketable securities in the previous three years offset the loss in 2008.

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Lifeway’s consolidated sales for the year increased 15% from 2007 to reach $44.5m.