Delivering the benefits of lactic acid bacteria to everyone: The secrets behind the popularity of “Yakult”


Have you ever heard of the drink Yakult? Familiar to almost everyone born and raised in Japan, Yakult has transcended generations and borders to play a vital role in helping people lead healthy and enjoyable lives. Today, Yakult is cherished in 40 countries and regions around the world, including Japan, with approximately 40 million bottles of Yakult’s dairy products sold each and every day. Once you discover the greatness of Yakult, you might want to start drinking it right away!

Delivering health to as many people as possible for nearly 90 years!

Minoru Shirota
Minoru Shirota, Yakult’s founder

The history of Yakult began some 90 years ago when Yakult’s founder, Minoru Shirota, had a heartfelt vision of ensuring healthy lives to all. At that time, Japan was facing the challenge of losing many children to infectious diseases due to poor sanitary conditions. Concerned about these dire circumstances, Dr. Shirota focused his research activities on the potential of lactic acid bacteria. Through his research, he successfully cultured a fortified strain of lactic acid bacteria that demonstrates beneficial effects on human health. That particular strain of lactic acid bacteria was then named after Dr. Shirota himself as Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (※). Driven by his strong will to deliver its health benefits to as many people as possible, Dr. Shirota together with his teams utilized this lactic acid bacteria to develop what became the probiotic drink Yakult in 1935.

※From April 2020, classified as Lacticaseibacillus paracasei strain Shirota.

Secrets behind Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota: How it reaches the intestines alive

Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota
Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota

While many strains of lactic acid bacteria perish before reaching the intestines due to their inability to withstand the potent gastric juices and bile within the human digestive system, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, which has been cultured and fortified so that it is able to reach the intestines alive, stands as a special strain of lactic acid bacteria capable of regulating the intestinal environment by bolstering beneficial bacteria and reducing harmful ones.

Find out more about Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota from the link below.

Secrets behind the name, Yakult

Yakult sold in glass bottles

The name Yakult is derived from the Esperanto word “jahurto” which means “yoghurt”. Developed so as to become a universal language at the end of the 19th century, Esperanto provided inspiration for the product’s name and reflects Yakult’s corporate philosophy of contributing to the health of people around the world.

Find out more about Yakult’s history and other information from the link below.

Secrets behind the container

Yakult’s container

Yakult’s distinctive, hourglass shape is designed to be easily held by people of all ages, including small children and the elderly. Its design also makes it easier to sip its contents more slowly rather than downing it all in one gulp. In addition to smaller containers being convenient from a hygiene perspective, the single-serving size is also intended to make it more convenient for customers to maintain a daily drinking habit.

Promoting health for all! The secrets behind the Yakult Ladies

A Yakult Lady
A Yakult Lady in the 1960s

While Yakult is now a household name in Japan, its early days were marked by the challenge of conveying the product's value in an era when people were less conscious of the importance of regulating their intestinal environment. To overcome this obstacle, the company devised a strategy of visiting individual households and directly communicate with people about the health benefits of Yakult. Recognizing the pivotal role of housewives in managing their family's health at the time, Yakult considered them ideal candidates for becoming effective door-to-door sales representatives who could relate well to target consumers, who were housewives as well. Thus, in 1963, the Yakult Lady home delivery system was established. Many Yakult Ladies earned consumer trust and good will by being supportive companions for their customers and showing genuine concern about their health. The Yakult Lady system was a huge success and expanded throughout various regions in Japan, particularly at a time when women in the workforce were not a common sight.

60 years of delivering Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota with smiles

Yakult Ladies

The year 2023 marks 60 years since launch of the Yakult Lady system. As of the end of June, there were approximately 33,000 Yakult Ladies in Japan delivering Yakult’s products to households and workplaces. Of course, you may purchase Yakult's products from any Yakult Lady you may encounter on the streets of Japan. Depending on what they have in stock at that moment, you may even find exclusive home-delivered products that are not sold in supermarkets. If you happen to meet a Yakult Lady during your journey, do not miss the chance to pick up one of the products! (Please note that cash payment is preferred.)

Yakult Ladies around the globe

Yakult Ladies

Yakult Ladies

Yakult Ladies

Yakult Ladies are delivering the health benefits of lactic acid bacteria not only in Japan, but around the globe as well. Since Yakult began expanding its operations overseas, starting with Taiwan in 1964, numerous women in various countries, especially in Asia and Central and South America, have been hired as Yakult Ladies. Currently, more than 80,000 Yakult Ladies worldwide are dedicated to serving their local communities. By creating employment opportunities, Yakult contributes significantly to empowering women on a global scale.

Find out more about Yakult Ladies from the link below.

Yakult’s network around the world


You may have spotted Yakult in supermarkets and convenience stores in your home countries. In line with the company’s founding philosophy of promoting public health, Yakult is now cherished in 40 countries and regions around the world. It has also established such deep roots in local communities that many people even perceive it as a beverage native to their own country. For your information, Yakult is sold in the same distinctively small container worldwide.

Shaping values that align with each era


Approximately 40 million bottles of Yakult are sold worldwide every day. Rather than resting on its laurels, Yakult, as a leading healthcare company committed to preserving the founder’s vision, persists in its efforts to develop new products that promote healthy living. After years of meticulous research, Yakult introduced Yakult1000 and Y1000 to further this mission.

Yakult1000 and Y1000 are now driving trends in Japan

Yakult1000 and Y1000

Yakult1000 and Y1000 were launched to address stress and sleep issues and have both become trending topics on social media in Japan. They have gained so much popularity that, as of June 2023, the total number of bottles sold has exceeded 1.5 billion, making it a social phenomenon. These products are characterised by their contents, which contain approximately 1 billion Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota per 1 ml, the highest concentration in Yakult's history. Research suggests that these products can provide marked relief from stress and improve sleep quality during periods of temporary mental strain.

While both products serve similar functions, they differ slightly in volume: 100 ml for Yakult1000 and 110ml for Y1000.

Yakult1000 is available as a home-delivered product that is basically distributed by Yakult Ladies to individual households and workplaces. Y1000, on the other hand, can be purchased from supermarkets, convenience stores or vending machines. As they are currently exclusive to Japan, make sure to purchase some when you are visiting the country!

Yakult remains committed to furthering its contributions to public health while continually pursuing excellence in taste.

Find out more about Yakult's secrets and stories from the link below.