Yakult’s probiotic fermented milk drink reaching new heights

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Yakult was founded in 1935 in Japan. Now in more than 30 countries worldwide, the product is still reaching into new markets.
Yakult was founded in 1935 in Japan. Now in more than 30 countries worldwide, the product is still reaching into new markets.
Yakult was founded in Japan in the 1930s, and the probiotic fermented milk drink has been expanding around the world ever since.

Its products are available in 33 countries, and depending on individual countries’ labelling laws, the company is able to promote the various health benefits of Yakult.

Each bottle contains at least 6.5bn of the strain of bacteria Lactobacillus casei ​Shirota, named after Dr Minoru Shirota, founder of Yakult, who in 1930 discovered a strain of lactic acid bacteria that was robust enough to survive through the intestines.

Kantar Worldpanel’s Brand Footprint: A Global Ranking of the Most Chosen Consumer Brands saw Japanese dairy company Yakult moves up three places to 47, and move into the ’top 10 global risers’ category in eighth.

Improving intestine health

A Yakult spokesperson explained to DairyReporter that improving beneficial intestinal flora was at the heart of the product.   

Examples of health claims for Yakult in various countries

Japan
Reach intestine alive
Increase beneficial bacteria
Decrease harmful bacteria
Improve intestinal flora

Hong Kong
Probiotics are live micro-organisms which improve its host's intestinal microbial balance. Lactobacillus​ is a type of probiotics.

India
Every bottle contains 6.5 billion Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota that help improve digestion and help build immunity.

Switzerland
The Lactobacillus case​i Shirota in Yakult contributes to the normal function of the intestines by improving stool consistency and reducing transit time.

USA and Canada
Drinking one or two bottles daily may balance your digestive system and maintain overall health.

Brazil
Lactobacillus casei​ Shirota helps in maintaining the intestinal flora balance. It should be consumed in association with a balanced diet and healthy living habits.

Taiwan
Regulating intestinal functions
Increase beneficial bacteria
Decrease harmful bacteria (Clostridium perfringens​)
Improve intestinal flora

Guangzhou
Improve intestinal flora, Improve immunity

Indonesia
Help to maintain gastrointestinal function

Singapore
Lactobacillus casei​ strain Shirota reaches the intestines alive where it helps to increase beneficial bacteria, decrease harmful bacteria and improve the environment of the intestines, thus helping to maintain intestinal health.

Vietnam
Contains more than 6.5 billion Lactobacillus casei​ strain Shirota that reaches the intestinal alive and improve the environment of the intestines.

Italy
Lactobacillus casei​ strain Shirota favours the balance of the intestinal flora/gut.

“No matter where in the world, we aim to contribute to the health and happiness of as many people as possible through our products based on Shirota-ism (preventive medicine, a healthy intestinal tract leads to a long life, a price anyone can afford); the philosophy of Yakult founder Dr. Minoru Shirota.”

There is also a different method of distribution of the product in addition to being available in stores.

“Yakult has a unique sales channel called the Yakult Lady home delivery system,”​ the spokesperson explained.

“There are approximately 80,000 Yakult Ladies active in 13 of the 33 locations. Yakult Ladies don’t just deliver products, they also provide customers with useful information such as the value of our products and about health in general.”

The spokesperson added that in countries and regions where Yakult Ladies are not active, the company places an emphasis on thoroughly conveying the value of products to customers and training employees well.

Healthy growth for healthy product

While national rules on marketing Yakult’s health benefits may change, the content varies little, changing only where necessary to meet any regulations stipulated by a specific country.

The spokesperson said that the health aspect of the product make it attractive to consumers around the world and account for its steady growth.

“As consumers focus more on the health and functionality of food products, we believe that it can lead to greater understanding of our products and more people consuming them,”​ the spokesperson said.

Expanding into new markets

Yakult does have products other than the small bottles of fermented drink, and variants such as low sugar versions, and future growth also includes developing new markets.

“Our mission is to deliver safe and reliable products containing L. casei strain Shirota, a strain of bacteria beneficial to people’s health. We will continue operations centered on Yakult, which contains this strain.

yakult malaysia

“Presently, we are moving ahead with preparations for the start of business at Yakult Middle East FZE and Yakult Myanmar Co., Ltd.”

The company is also undertaking feasibility studies in Europe, especially EU countries in which it is not present currently, and parts of Eastern Europe, as well as various countries in Latin America.

In its financial results for the year ending March 31, 2016, Yakult saw an increase in net sales of 5.9% to ¥390bn ($3.6bn), with operating income strongest in the Asia-Pacific region. 

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