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The troops that spread Yakult everywhere

Updated: Oct 8, 2018

The author (center) together with Ms Juvy Aquino, PR & Science / Marketing & Promotions, Yakult Phils. Inc. (right), and a Yakult lady.

For probiotics pioneer Yakult, its goal is to expand its overseas network even further to make many people around the world enjoy the benefits of probiotics for overall good health, and to live longer—and healthier—lives.

That is why it continues to gather the unlikeliest of troops. No, not the battle-hardened and brawny ones but those that serve with dedication and a ton of smiles to help achieve that goal.

Yakult became so successful in Japan and overseas, all because of a simple approach to a distribution challenge. In 1963, it launched the “Yakult Lady System,” a door-to-door product delivery process where fully uniformed Yakult Ladies go to each household in varying modes of transport, or even through walking, every day. But it’s not just about delivering Yakult; the ladies themselves are the face of Yakult. They explain and help customers understand the benefits of lactobacilli to their overall health.

Today, they are a common fixture in Japan (35,339 ladies sell an average 139.6 bottles per day) and in many countries like Taiwan, Korea, China, India, select ASEAN countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and of course the Philippines and its 3,500 Yakult Ladies), plus Brazil and Mexico. Currently, more than 80,000 Yakult Ladies trod the streets in Japan and overseas and they have become an inseparable part of the Yakult business.

People globally are thankful that Dr. Minoru Shirota from the Kyoto University and a leading researcher of Microbiology became the first in the world to successfully culture a fortified strain of lactic acid bacteria good for humans. The bacterium “Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota” was named in his honor, and led to “Shirota-ism,” which believes a healthy intestinal tract that absorbs nutrition into the body helps lead to long life. It also believes in keeping healthy to prevent diseases from entering the body and bring good health to the people.

Dr. Shirota introduced “Yakult” in 1935 that provides functional benefits to promote better health through live microorganisms—the Probiotics—to the intestines and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Probiotics help activate the body’s natural immune powers and promote healthier intestinal activity with no side effects unlike traditional medicine.

Yakult now has 28 overseas companies and presence in 38 countries and regions (excluding Japan), selling almost 30 million bottles daily, reaching approximately 4.5 billion total population and with 22,392 employees.

Perhaps, Dr. Shirota never imagined that his discovery will create a significant impact in people’s lives, thanks also in large part to the Yakult Ladies. They will continue to expand overseas, all because of these ladies’ undying smiles that helped introduced Yakult to Japan and to the rest of the world.

By Ana Manansala

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