The company claims that output at the plant located in Olsztyn has now been trebled as a result of the expansion, which also includes the completion of a new highly automated lactic acid bacteria fermentation line to boost innovation in creating kefir-based cultures. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that has been popular in a number of Eastern and Central European countries for hundreds of years, but it is now increasingly being linked to offering functional benefits as an ingredient, according to the group. Plant expansion The manufacturer says that the expanded site will extend the group's capabilities to produce what it calls innovative cultures mixing real life kefir grains with lactic acid bacteria to better meet specific flavour and texture requirements of customers. A Danisco spokesperson told DairyReporter.com said that the combination of freeze dried kefir grains could also be combined with the probiotic strain Howaru Bifido. The spokesperson added that the product could also be supplied in individual sachets for home-made kefir drinks. The Olsztyn plant has been previously used in manufacturing traditional kefir products for Eastern European and Russian markets, though it has also been used to develop new applications for the product geared towards more Westernised tastes. Plant manager Piotr Kolakowski said that with Kefir proving to be outgrowing its overall dairy business, the site would ensure it could meet customer demand for the product. "With our new fermentation line and other upgraded equipment, we will be able to service our customers' demand for some years," he stated. Ingredient complexity Despite kefir's reputation for having a number of health benefits, research from Canada's Food Research and Development Centre suggests that there are currently few studies to conclusively back these claims. In the review, head researcher Edward Farnworth said that kefir was a complex probiotic to define, though there could be potential for the ingredient. "Few clinical trials are found in the scientific literature to support the health claims attributed to kefir," he stated. "The large number of microorganisms in kefir, the variety of possible bioactive compounds that could be formed during fermentation, and the long list of reputed benefits of eating kefir make this fermented dairy product a complex probiotic."