Yakult is a Japanese company that makes a probiotic dairy drink called Yakult.
Founded over 80 years ago, the company is a mainstay at local grocers and markets throughout east and southeast Asia.
“Yakult ladies” market and deliver the product in a hybrid network-marketing style manner, selling cases of the drink off the backs of their bicycles and mopeds.
In more recent times, Yakult has expanded internationally, and their products are now available in dozens of countries.
To date, their marketing strategy for English-speaking countries involves only a retail sales model, but given the success of network marketing strategies for similar health and wellness products, plus the increasing popularity of probiotics, it would not be unexpected if the company eventually expands its distribution to include network marketing as well.
Yakult has the slow, steady increase in popularity of a company on the up and up.
A consistent and steady long-term increase in search traffic is also what you see when you track public interest in probiotics–products containing these good bacteria are definitely the next hot thing in health and wellness, since more and more scientific studies attesting their use keep coming out.
Yakult (the company) sells only two products: Yakult (the drink) and Yakult Light.
Yakult is made by using the Shirota strain of the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus casei to ferment a mixture of sugar, skim milk powder, glucose, and Lactobacillus casei Shirota cultures. The regular version contains 11 grams of sugar per bottle, while the light version contains only four. The difference is made up by adding corn dextrin and Stevia to lower the sugar content.
One important thing to remember, if you are watching your diet, is that not all of the sugar in Yakult is sucrose (a.k.a. cane sugar). Since this is a dairy product, some proportion of the sugar is lactose, which does not have the same detrimental effects as sucrose or fructose.
At the same time, the company notes that the lactose content of Yakult is somewhere on the order of that in yogurt, so it’s not nearly as aggravating as regular milk to people who have lactose intolerance. As a general rule of thumb, if you can eat yoghurt without digestive issues, you can drink Yakult.
When it comes to the science of probiotics, Yakult has some decent footing for its health claims. A 2006 scientific study published in the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology investigated the effects of Lactobacillus casei on the immune system of lab rats (1). A probiotic dosage of the bacteria was demonstrated to increase immune system activity, as measured by increases in specific immune-related cells in the body.
A healthy gut biome is known to help “crowd out” bad bacteria in your body, but research like this suggests that specific probiotic strains have direct immunity-boosting effects. Other researchers have even used this as inspiration to use the probiotic to boost the immune system’s response to vaccines.
Yakult has also sponsored some of its own research that’s been published in peer-reviewed journals. A 1998 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied how Yakult affected the gut biome in healthy male test subjects.
Ten subjects were given Yakult to drink every day, while ten more subjects were given a non-fermented placebo drink. The subjects’ diets were strictly controlled to ensure that they were not consuming any other fermented foods or beverages, like yogurt, cheese, or beer.
At the study’s conclusion, the researchers found that the men who had been drinking Yakult for eight weeks had a substantially altered gut bacteria population.
As you’d expect, levels of Lactobacillus casei were much higher in the subjects drinking Yakult. Levels of a potentially harmful type of bacteria, the Clostridium genus, were down, though there weren’t enough subjects to establish whether this change was statistically significant or not.
If it is significant, though, this means that Yakult could prove useful for people with an unhealthy gut biome that’s causing health issues, like digestive problems.
Unfortunately, markers of immune system activity were unchanged in the human volunteers, perhaps indicating that Yakult doesn’t modulate the immune system of healthy people.
Currently, it’s not possible to join Yakult as a network marketing distributor in most of their markets. However, if you operate a retail store, you can get in touch with their product distribution team and order Yakult wholesale.
If you truly believe that probiotics are going to be game-changers in the health and wellness market, or if you have connections at a local health and wellness store, it could be a lucrative business arrangement to start ordering wholesale and selling locally.
The real question is whether and when the company will move to a network marketing model, and if so, what their compensation model will look like. When there’s an answer to that, it’ll be a lot easier to evaluate whether or not Yakult represents a strong income opportunity.
Yakult’s products are a mainstay of Southeast Asia, and there is at least some scientific evidence that their probiotic bacteria could be a helpful immune-system booster. Its gut biome altering properties could also be useful for people who have gastrointestinal issues caused by an unhealthy gut biome.
If and when Yakult moves to a network marketing model, the quality of the compensation plan will dictate whether or not it’s a smart business opportunity.