Yakult and lactobacillus casei

Yakult (ヤクルト) is the name of the first company in the world that commercialized products with “Lactobacillus Casei”. It was during 1935 (Much much before Danone made their L.Casei products popular in Europe and USA) when a Japanese scientist called Shirota discoverd the “L. casei Shirota” and created a company that would become the current Yakult. Yakult is NOT a yogurt company, is a bacteria company. Their business is based on finding new applications and new bacterias and they commercialize their findings as drinks, cosmetics and drugs. They also have a baseball team.

In Europe many yogurt companies try to sell products with Lactobacillus casei suggesting that are modified healthy yogurts, but those are NOT really yogurts (The definition of yogurt says that it has to contain Stretococcus thermophilus or Lactobacillus bulgaricus). In Japan the market is more defined, clear and mature, there are the yogurts and there are the probiotic drinks.

The main Yakult drink is the “Yakult”, it comes in a little bottle with a pretty retro design, it seems that the bottle never changed since the 70s. I love the standard “Yakult”, it has a pretty soft-acid flavor.

Yakult

Yakult
Pack típico de 5 Yakults.

In the western countries we had a nice life during decades without Lactobacillus casei while in Japan they drank Yakult. It was until Danone brought the idea of selling L.Casei bacteria. It’s ok, but it’s interesting/curious seeing how big companies create new necessities so the consumers would buy their products. Japanese children from the 70-80s drank Yakult and milk everyday. European children drank milk and we were very happy without ingesting L.Caseis. Nowadays, after the Danone CMs brainwash, European and USA kids are also drinking Actimel or similar drinks everyday.

Yakult has a pretty powerful brand image in Japan, their name is a synonym of “probiotic drink”. There are other brands selling similar drinks with different varieties of L.Casei. Yakult is also available in Great Britain, Taiwan, China, Philippines, USA, Mexico and Korea.

And interesting phenomenon related with Yakult are the “Yakult obaasan” (Yakult aunties) who are Yakult delivery old women who usually use bikes to do their job; instead of milk delivery, Yakult delivery!

Yakult
“Yakult obaasan” delivering Yakult in the morning.

Yakult

21 Replies to “Yakult and lactobacillus casei”

  1. I live in the US right now. There are imitations, but they taste like plasic. I have to wait every few months to go to Chicago to buy real Yakult.

    I stock up what the experation date allow me to. I love Yakult! But the one they import in the US are from Mexico, and it just don’t taste the same as the on I used to have in Hong Kong.

  2. They have a similar thing in Korea. I live in Alaska now (with my Korean wife) and we get this at the market. My 2 year old son loves this stuff.

  3. Its not yakult, but they have something like that in the United States.

    Basically the Dannon company made a drinking yogurt with L. casei called, Danactive.
    The taste isnt like yakult, more like sweet yogurt.

    http://danactive.com/

  4. I used to drink that all the time when I was a kid in Mexico. I loved it, and always drank at least one a day. I never knew what it was though until now.

  5. Yakult is also available here in Argentina. In some supermarkets and also home delivered. I had no idea this was Japanese product.

    I tried it a few times, incorrectly thinking it was a pro biotic yogurt (now I know) and I didn’t really like it. Too acid for my taste.

    I probably should try it again, now that I know what it is. 😛

  6. It´s very popular in Brazil as well…everyone knows it…. there´s a old lady on my suburb that goes around with her little trolly selling it from door to door… shes been around for like 20 years.

  7. I visit often Thailand & Philippines. The size of Yakult is much, much bigger & it’s real cheaper, more affordable comparatively to Europe, in France or Germany. Between us, I hope that someone will make competition to yakult in Europe because their price policy is a shame for all consumers. It’s probably orchestrated by greedy Yakult Netherlands.

  8. HI. im Japanese, living in Macau now. Yakult, the taste is very stable and exactly same in Hong Kong nad Macau too. what i found out last week was.,,,blue package!! seems a “light taste” or less fat. that was also tasty.

  9. Oh, I always assumed Yakult was from Denmark or somewhere, the name sounded “continental” to me XD. I suppose it’s one of those put-together Japanese words like Combini or Pasokon

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