Gut instinct

While a focus on health and wellness was already a well-established trend within the Irish grocery sector pre-pandemic, the idea of ‘food as medicine’ has become even more pertinent following the Covid-19 crisis and products that boost gut health are gaining greater traction within the mainstream market


Brand Central

18 February 2022

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Food as medicine has been a topic of interest among consumers for several years. However, throughout the pandemic, purchasing products which emphasise prevention over treatment has become all the more popular.

While the health and wellness trend was already on the rise pre Covid-19, the importance of following a healthy lifestyle and diet have been well covered during the health crisis. Gut health, which refers to a well-balanced microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract, is notable in that it is shown to impact both physical and mental wellbeing.

Beyond just digestive health, gut health encompasses immunity support, weight management, and recent research suggests an impact on mood due to the ‘gut-brain axis’. While gut health has been gaining traction among consumers who pursue a holistic approach to healthy living, others may have unknowingly been building a healthy gut microbiome by including the likes of yogurt, sauerkraut or kombucha in their diets. For retailers looking to take advantage of this exciting trend, read on to learn more about the brands making a name for themselves within this sector.

Deliciously good for gut health

The Activia brand is in growth annually at +2.1%

A gut health hero, Activia is a uniquely mild and creamy yogurt packed with billions of live cultures is known for being ‘deliciously good’ for gut health*.

The seven-metre tube known as the gut is a hugely important part of the body. And not just for its role in digestion! In fact, we all owe much more to the gut than we might imagine. For instance, it’s home to a whopping 100 million neurons. 90% of the serotonin (the happy hormone) in the human body also happens to be produced in the gut.

Enjoyed by a quarter of Irish households, the Activia brand is in growth annually at +2.1% with Activia’s Grains range in growth annually at an impressive +22.8%**.

*(Enjoy as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, calcium contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes)

**(Source: Nielsen up to 2 January 2022)

Let food be your medicine!

Glenilen Farm uses 14 strains of live cultures sourced from Kefir to create its range of Kefir spoonable Yoghurts

West Cork-based dairy brand, Glenilen Farm, has taken a lot of learnings from Covid-19 and subsequently has a good gut feeling about the coming year! 2021 saw the roll out of Glenilen Farm’s Gut Health Kefir yoghurt range across all leading Glenilen Farm stockists in Ireland.

Speaking about their business, co-founder and farmer Alan Kingston says: “Many Irish brands have been feeling the love over the last year from consumers who want to support local. Everyone was hit by the impact of Covid-19 so the commitment from Irish consumers to shop locally, support the community and support our brand is both heart-warming and truly valued.”

Glenilen Farm yoghurt has always been synonymous with gut friendly cultures and since Covid- 19, consumers are looking for more ways to boost their immunity through food.

Many people may have heard of Kefir and may associate it with other fermented foods such as Kombucha and dare we say it…sauerkraut! But what is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented dairy product traditionally from Russia and Eastern Europe where it is forms part of the everyday diet. In fact, studies conducted over a century ago by the Nobel Prize winning scientist, Elie Metchnikoff, with the local Balkan peasants, reported their unusual long lifespan and attributed it to their consumption of traditional Kefir.

The Glenilen Farm Gut Health Kefir Yoghurt 350g range is now available in yoghurt aisles nationwide

Glenilen Farm uses 14 strains of live cultures sourced from Kefir to create its range of Kefir spoonable yoghurts. It is fresh and delicious product available in variants such as Natural, Vanilla or Passion Fruit. Given the success of the Kefir 350g range, Glenilen Farm will launch a further two SKUs this month in four x 125g multi-packs.

“When we first started making yoghurts over 20 years ago,” continues Kingston, “we created a yoghurt based on selected live yoghurt cultures and we are delighted now to present a modern reinvention of traditional kefir with its strong heritage, and fantastic flavour to boot. Creating a great tasting yoghurt is the priority for our brand and ensuring the consumer benefits with 14 strains of live cultures for gut health is the perfect combination for our customers who are looking for yoghurt with gut supporting benefits. Like the Greek fellow Hippocrates, Valerie and I firmly believe ‘Let your food be your medicine.’”

The Glenilen Farm Gut Health Kefir Yoghurt 350g range is now available in the yoghurt aisle in stores across Ireland.

Bio beautiful!

The fermented milk drink Kefir is at the heart of all Biotiful products. Kefir originated 2,000 years ago in the Caucasus mountains and is enjoyed by millions all over the world for its great taste and nutritional benefits.

By fermenting locally sourced milk with authentic live Kefir grains, Biotiful creates cultured milk drinks that are naturally packed with billions of gut-friendly cultures, high in protein, vitamins and minerals, with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.

Biotiful Kefir is available in a range of flavours including Original, Cherry, Cacao, Strawberry and Honey & Ginger in 250ml and 500ml bottles. Biotiful Kefir Quark – a unique combination of milk with kefir and quark cultures that makes a thick and creamy dairy snack packed with protein, full of gut-friendly cultures and similarly no sugar added. Kefir Quark comes in Original, Kefir Quark with a range of fruit compotes including Raspberry, Black Cherry and Strawberry & Rhubarb, and also Kefir Quark with Seed and Berry toppers.

For more information, visit

Organic success

King of Kefir uses no preservatives, emulsifiers or stabilisers, and the end results are vegan friendly and gluten free

Healthy fermented non-alcoholic drinks group, King of Kefir, achieved an impressive feat last year when it achieved organic registration at the end of 2021. The missing link was sourcing Irish organic apple juice, which King of Kefir now uses instead of cane sugar to naturally fizz its drinks up via bottle conditioning.

The new bottles sport a twist crown cap, meaning consumers can just twist off the cap rather than using a bottle opener. They are much like the bottle caps that are common in Australia and the US, and the bottles are now truly “grab and go” as a result.

To mark the new bottles, resident artist, Conor Gallagher, redesigned the labels by colour to highlight his herb illustrations. The current range is Lemongrass & Ginger, Chilli & Ginger, Cucumber Mint & Thyme and Hopped Culture. All are in 330ml amber glass bottles and now with the twist-off crown cap

What hasn’t changed, is that the drinks are still all less than 7kcal per bottle, are naturally fermented in the bottles with the water Kefir cultures for 14 days to create the fizz, are unfiltered and unpasteurised. King of Kefir uses natural ingredients with no preservatives, emulsifiers or stabilisers, and the end results are vegan friendly and gluten free.

Last year as Covid hit, the company was getting ready to launch its new flavour “Hopped Culture”. It’s a dry hopped water kefir using its three aromatic hops, Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic. It’s been described as “like a non-alcoholic beer that is not pretending to be a beer”, “bitter like an IPA and super thirst quenching”. With passion fruit and a sweet floral note (similar to elderflower), it has undertones of juicy pineapple/apple. A white fruit effect (pear/unripe peach) combines with the grassy bitter hop flavour mixed with lime/lemon.

It is currently stocked by Avoca, Blas Café, Bradley’s Off license, Butler’s Pantry, Donnybrook Fair, Evergreen Healthfoods, Fallon & Byrne, Fresh Supermarkets, The Happy Pear, The Headline Bar, The Hopsack, Nolan’s Supermarket, Leon, Lott’s & Co, Nourish Health stores, Smallchanges, Supervalu Food Academy fridges and many other independent wholefood stores. The RRP is €2.95- €3.25

For any further information, contact founder Gerry Scullion at 087 684 2134 or or visit

Simply transformative

SynerChi is Ireland’s original Kombucha brewery. Laura Murphy, founder and “brew master”, established the first traditional kombucha tea microbrewery or “Kombrewery” in Ireland, when SynerChi Kombucha started life in Stoneybatter, Dublin back in 2012. Raymond Coyle, founder of Tayto Park and previously of Largo Foods Tayto Crisps brand, came on board as the company’s investor in 2013.

SynerChi is made using a traditional fermentation method so that the live cultures and naturally occurring raw enzymes are preserved. Made by fermenting organic teas with a live kombucha culture of yeast and bacteria, a deliciously refreshing brew is produced.

Commenting on the gut health sector, Laura Murphy says: “There are so many fantastic functional doctors out there sharing great information about the benefits of feeding and keeping the gut microbiome diverse and in good shape. Probiotic supplements are an option, but regularly including diverse natural ferments such as kombucha, kefir, veggie sauerkrauts, even miso (the key is look for products that are unpasteurized and contain live cultures) in your diet is perhaps the best way to go.

“Increasingly people are experiencing the power that simple diet changes can have, and the power to heal that can come from really supporting the gut with lots of fibre, eating the rainbow, healthy fats, then adding to that a plentiful and regular supply of good live bacteria can be simply transformative,” she adds.

For more information, visit







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