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.
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 obaasan” delivering Yakult in the morning.