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Locally, I'm seeing Lifeway kefir up about 9% in retail price at Harris Teeter (Ruddick subsidiary) in the DC metro area. On US Foods, I have nothing useful to say.

I do, however, have some feedback direct from the CEO that might be of interest:

1. The three key retailers to watch for pricing trends (i.e. Lifeway's three biggest indirect buyers) are Kroger, Albertson's, and Safeway.

2. Right now, the proportion of conventional/organic milk purchased by Lifeway runs 75/25. Rapid growth in Lifeway-brand organic kefir should push the proportion to 50/50 within three years.

3. Higher milk costs were only part of the problem last quarter. Lifeway also got hit by the minimum wage increase, and higher gas and energy costs. Back those out and the firm would have earned perhaps $0.04 rather than the $0.03 it reported. (Still a sizeable miss off of the Taglich Bros. estimate.)

4. Free cash flow: We won't see much of this until mid-next year. Julie says most of the currently planned production expansion will be completed by February 2008. Also worth noting -- roughly 85% of Lifeway's capex is expansion capex. Only 10-15% is maintenance capex.

5. Lifeway puts its share of the kefir market at 99% as of today.

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