Industry Probiotic Drinks
Founded 1935
Headquarters Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Sumiya Hori (Chairman), Khamis Agear
Website www.yakult.co.jp/english/

Yakult (ヤクルト Yakuruto ) is a probiotic dairy product made by fermenting a mixture of skimmed milk with a special strain of the bacterium Lactobacillus casei Shirota. It was created by Japanese scientist Minoru Shirota, who graduated from the Medical School of Kyoto University in 1930. In 1935, he started manufacturing and selling Yakult. Official claims state that the name is derived from jaĥurto, (with a circumflex over the h), an Esperanto word for "yogurt".[1] Since then, Yakult has also introduced a line of beverages for the Japanese market that contain Bifidobacterium breve bacteria, and has also used its lactobacilli research to develop cosmetics. More recently, the Yakult Honsha played a major role in developing the chemotherapy drug irinotecan (Camptosar, CPT-11).[2]

After its introduction in Japan and Taiwan, Yakult was first sold in Brazil in 1966,[3] due to the large number of Japanese immigrants in the country, before it was marketed elsewhere. Today, Yakult is sold in 31 countries,[4] although its bacteria cultures are provided from a mother strain from Japan regardless of production location.

Yakult is marketed in different sizes. In Australia and New Zealand, Europe, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam Yakult comes in 65mL bottles. In the Americas (including Mexico, one of Yakult's largest selling markets), Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, 80 ml bottles are available. It is also available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China where Yakult comes in 100 ml bottles.[5][6][7]

The product is made by Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. (株式会社ヤクルト本社 Kabushiki-gaisha Yakuruto Honsha) (TYO: 2267), where Groupe Danone has a 20% share. The company also owns one of Japan's major baseball franchises, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. It has been also one of the partner companies of the FINA World Aquatics Championships since 2005.


  • Nutritional value 1
    • Scientific basis 1.1
  • Production 2
  • Varieties 3
  • Yakult around the world 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Nutritional value

Standard Yakult (excludes variations such as in Yakult Light) contains:[8]

  • Sugar (sucrose, dextrose)
  • Skimmed milk powder
  • Natural flavours
  • Live Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain, 6.5 billion per 65 mL bottle (concentration of 108 CFU/mL)
  • Water

Standard Yakult contains 18g of sugar for every 100g, but comes in 65 mL bottles. This concentration is higher than the level defined as “HIGH” by the UK Food Standards Agency (described for concentrations of sugar above 15g per 100g).[9] As a comparison Coca-Cola and orange juice are in the range of 10g of sugar per 100g, but with a serving size usually greater than 250 ml, while Yakult is served in much smaller doses. Based on the existence of many products like Yakult in the world market and the content of milk protein (1.4 g per 100 ml),[10] it was classified as a fermented milk named "Fermented Milk Drinks" of the Codex Standard. Through nutrient profiling guidelines, current health claim regulation in European Union may forbid the use of health claim on food products that are nutritionally unbalanced, but dairy products and probiotic drinks are likely to be considered as favourable carrier because their health benefits outweigh the fact they might be high in one of the designated 'unhealthy' ingredients.[11]

Scientific basis

According to the manufacturer's website, the benefits of Yakult consumption are supported by an array of scientific studies.[12] Those could range from maintenance of gut flora,[13] "modulation" of the immune system,[14] regulation of bowel habits and constipation[15] and finally effects on some gastrointestinal infections.[16]

Although the number of scientific papers is large, most of them are based on in vitro and in vivo experiments, with some human clinical trials done on cohorts[17][18][19] and with daily consumption of 40–100 billions of probiotic L. casei Shirota,[14] far above the single bottle concentration of approximately 6.5 billion.

In 2010, an EFSA panel concluded that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota and maintenance of the upper respiratory tract defence against pathogens by maintaining immune defences.[20]

In September 2014 the University College of London published the results of testing using stomach fluids from pigs. The tests found that Yakult had sufficient bacteria, but "fell short" as the bacteria were unable to survive in the stomach. Yakult responded by claiming that independent studies had shown the bacteria do better in the human digestive system.[21]


Yakult opened a factory in Fountain Valley, California in the United States in 2014.[22]

Yakult is also manufactured in Australia in Dandenong, Victoria.

A manufacturing plant of Yakult is situated at Haryana, India.[23]

Yakult opened a factory in Calamba, Laguna in the Philippines due to their popularity.


Yakult around the world

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Yakult company profile: Pharmaceutical Division
  3. ^ Yakult page in Portuguese
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^
  12. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived April 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Yakult07.co.uk
  14. ^ a b Yakult07.co.uk Archived April 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Yakult07.co.uk
  16. ^ Yakult07.co.uk Archived January 19, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Yapp, Robin. (September 12, 2014). "Probiotic drinks 'don't do any good': Study finds 'good' bacteria in many products does not even reach the small intestine", The Daily Mail. Accessed December 29, 2014.
  22. ^
  23. ^ http://www.yakult.co.in/contactus.aspx

External links

  • Japanese Yakult website
  • Yakult USA website