MORTON GROVE, Ill., Nov. 09, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lifeway Foods, Inc., (Nasdaq:LWAY), the leading U.S. supplier of kefir cultured dairy products, today reported financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2016. "Our third quarter results reflects our commitment to drive growth and better position Lifeway for future success," said Julie Smolyansky, CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc. "I am pleased to report that Lifeway's total household penetration is up 28% compared to last year, a strong indication that the strategic marketing and trade investments we have made are attracting a broader consumer base. Today, Lifeway's brand is stronger than ever and we believe there are still tremendous white space opportunities for us to further expand distribution of our diverse portfolio of products across all retail sales channels. Looking forward, we will continue to prioritize our key initiatives to drive sales, improve profitability and create long-term value for our shareholders." Third Quarter Results Third quarter of 2016 net sales increased 1.3% to $30.0 million from $29.6 million in the third quarter of 2015 reflecting higher volumes of private label and organic products partially offset by an increased investment in trade programs. Gross profit as a percent of net sales decreased to 26.6% from 30.2% in the same period last year. The decrease in gross margin reflects increased trade promotion and unfavorable mix. Selling expenses increased by $1.6 million to $4.3 million during the third quarter of 2016 from $2.7 million in the third quarter of 2015. The increase in selling expenses reflects an increase in advertising costs associated with a six-week advertising campaign in the third quarter. As a percentage of net sales, selling expenses increased to 14.4% compared to 9.1% in the same period last year. General and administrative expenses decreased by $0.7 million or 17.3% to $3.3 million reflecting lower professional fees partially offset by higher compensation levels.