Yakult’s history began in 1935 when its founder, Dr. Minoru Shirota (1899-1982), launched a fermented milk drink under the name “Yakult” in Fukuoka, Japan. The drink containined the lactic acid bacteria Shirota strain (L. Casei Shirota strain*), which was successfully cultivated during research on microorganisms at Kyoto Imperial University’s School of Medicine (now Kyoto University). Drinking Yakult every day can bring people the health benefits of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, which was shown to have beneficial effects on the intestinal tract.
After World War II, the number of companies selling Yakult quickly increased across Japan with Yakult Honsha established in Tokyo in 1955 to manage this growing network.
In 1967, Yakult Honsha moved its research base from Kyoto to Kunitachi in Tokyo to strengthen its research and development structure. At the same time, the Company diversified its business into cosmetics and pharmaceuticals while expanding its range of products including the fermented milk drink Joie and other soft drinks.
Yakult expanded aggressively overseas and is now sold in 39 countries and regions from 29 business sites around the world.
* Classified as Lacticaseibacillus paracasei strain Shirota since April 2020.
The Origins of Yakult
Dr. Minoru Shirota advocated preventive medicine, measures that prevent people from getting sick rather than treating them after they get sick. He also believed that a healthy intestinal tract would lead to a longer, healthier life. Because of this, Dr. Shirota wanted to provide Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota at a price anyone could afford to make Yakult accessible to as many people as possible.
At Yakult, we call these things “Shirota-ism.” It is this which lies at the heart of Yakult and forms the very foundation for all our operations.