THE success of a new product launch from York ice cream producer Yorvale has seen the family firm invest in new production facilities at its farm-based headquarters.

Diversifying its offering, away from its popular ice cream and frozen yoghurt ranges, Yorvale last year ventured into producing kefir, a fermented milk drink know for its health benefits.

After trailing recipes in an unused area of its factory at Acaster Malbis, Yorvale launched its Yorlife brand, and went on to secure distribution deals in London and Glasgow.

As awareness of kefir in the UK market grew so did the popularity of Yorlife, with the brand now lined up a for a potential national distribution deal.

To cope with growing production demand Yorvale’s founders Ian and Lesley Buxton have invested in a new 40 square metre factory, next to its current ice cream making facilities.

Plans for the new building, which will lead to the creation of three new jobs, were this week approved by City of York Council’s planning committee.

Mr Buxton, who runs the business with his wife Lesley, and employs a team of 15, said: “Someone who worked here, and was into their health and fitness, suggested we tried making kefir.

“We had a small area here that wasn’t been used, and were able to get live cultures from one of the suppliers we used for our yoghurts, we were able to trial it initially without too much captial investment.

“We came up with a few flavours that we felt worked, and started selling it.

“We got a lot of interest straight away, especially from the south, and in the last six to eight months it has really taken off.

“We weren’t especially looking to introduce a new product to our range, but we are alway open to ideas, and because the kefir fit in so well with what we were already doing at Yorvale we had nothing to lose in giving it a go.”

Yorlife has already won a Great Taste Award for its Blueberry and Elderflower flavoured kefir drink, which it received last year.