Coffee kicks kefir up a notch

A challenger UK kefir brand that is growing and profitable has stepped up its game with a kefir-plus-coffee drink targeting immunity.

Pioneering kefir brand Biotiful’s new kefir drink is made with cold brew coffee using Arabica beans and comes in two varieties: Kefir+Coffee Latte and Mocha. Available in UK retailer Sainsbury's, the RTD kefir coffee sells for £1.60 ($2.21/€1.86) per 250ml bottle, with an “immunity support” message at the front and centre of the pack.

The RTD coffee category has many things going for it, so it comes as no surprise that a small dairy brand with an appetite for growth would test these waters. For one, coffee is a familiar, well-understood ingredient that delivers a ‘feel the benefit’ effect. RTD coffee in particular is gaining favour in countries where younger people are less ingrained in the ritual of drinking coffee hot. In the US, for example, 68% of 18-to-34-year-olds consume single-serve RTD coffee (in bottles or cans), compared to 43% of total US adults. In the UK 67% of 18-to-24-year-olds say chilled coffee is a good alternative to sugary drinks.

Companies have caught on to this opportunity, putting money into a host of innovations such as cold-brew coffee and Bulletproof coffee. Coca-Cola, which acquired the Costa Coffee brand for $5.2 billion (€4.5 billion), has launched Costa Coffee Ready-To-Drink “designed for consumers looking for a genuine coffee hit” in China and the UK. 

The kefir+coffee RTD launch is entirely in keeping with the trend-focused strategy that has won Biotiful success so far. Biotiful seems to adhere to the belief that ‘more is more’ when it comes to benefits, and its kefir+coffee drink connects to several key consumer trends:

  • Digestive Wellness, with a “gut-friendly” message. “Kefir yogurt is a source of calcium, which contributes to the normal functioning of the digestive system”
  • Energy, by using coffee and B12, which “contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue” and makes the coffee kefir “the perfect summer drink to give you a natural energy uplift”
  • Immunity, thanks to vitamin B12, “which supports the normal functioning of the immune system”
  • Protein
  • Provenance, stating it is “made with British milk”
  • Snackification and convenience with the on-the-go, 250ml format

 

This small and distinctive brand has been steadily growing since its launch in 2012, and it even enjoyed a 50% sales increase in 2020, when many probiotic brands were performing poorly. Created by Russian ex-figure skater Natasha Bowes, Biotiful’s products are available in all major supermarket chains across the UK, where it wants to become “a dairy staple” in the market. It has also extended its reach to France, where it is available in Carrefour BIO stores.

The coffee innovation comes on the heels of other interesting category expansions Biotiful has made in the past two years, including kefir quark, kefir cheese and kids’ products. Amid the Covid-19 lockdown it quickly shifted focus from digestive wellness to immunity. The ability to keep its finger on the market’s pulse, stay nimble and innovate has been rewarded by $20 million ($28 million/€23 million) in sales in

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