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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Putting action behind its statement earlier this year that organics and other healthy foods will play a bigger part in its stores, Wal-Mart Stores here is conducting a limited test market of Chicago-based Lifeway Foods, Inc.'s kefir product in up to 17 of its Chicago-land stores. The news, which came late Thursday, sent shares of Lifeway Foods soaring more than 20 percent early Friday.
Lifeway is the nation's leading manufacturer of kefir, a milk-based beverage that contains 10 types of "friendly," active probiotic cultures. The company now offers 13 different flavors of its Kefir beverage, Organic Kefir, and SoyTreat (a soy-based kefir).
"While we do not expect nationwide distribution at Wal-Mart stores in the near future, we are thrilled that we can continue to expand and penetrate the Chicagoland with our award-winning kefir in new mainstream outlets," said Lifeway president Julie Smolyansky. "We hope this limited store distribution is successful to a point where we can then move to supply a larger number of Wal-Mart stores nationwide."