Yakult Danone India expands probiotic operations

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotic

The Indian joint venture between Yakult and Danone established in 2005 to bring Yakult probiotic drinks to the Indian market is expanding with Bangalore targeted as the point of entry for southern markets.

The 50/50 JV put products on Delhi shelves in 2007 and 65ml Yakult little bottles that contain 6.5bn colony forming units of the strain Lactobacillus casei Shirota​ are now present in that city as well as Chandigarh, Punjab, Jaipur, Mumbai and Pune.

“Our India expansion plans are on track and soon we would enter into other markets in the south,”​ said Yakult Danone India managing director, Kiyoshi Oike, in press reports.

The Indian market remains minute by European standards with Frost & Sullivan estimating its worth at a mere 20.6m rupees (€320,000), but it should push through the €1m mark around 2013-2014 and be worth €1.3m in 2015.

In contrast to many other markets, the major format for probiotic sales in India​ to date has been food supplements, rather than the most popular formats – spoonable and drinkable yoghurts.

Probiotic supplements account for 49 per cent of sales with foods and beverages at only four per cent. Globally, food and beverages account for 56 per cent of probiotic sales.

While no sales figures were available for Danone Yakult products, AC Nielsen polling found 48 per cent of consumers in Delhi were aware of Yakult, and 37per cent in Mumbai.

“The overwhelming response from our consumers has urged us to expand our foothold in the country and it gives me immense pleasure to announce the launch of Yakult in Bangalore,”​ Oike added.

A pack of five Yakult bottles sells for 50 rupees (€0.84) with distribution available from a force of more 150 ‘Yakult ladies’ that deliver product door-to-door. Globally there are more than 80,000 Yakult ladies performing this service.

The Yakult Danone India website states that Yakult can:

  • Reach the intestines alive and transiently colonize the gut
  • Improve the intestinal barrier function
  • Stimulate systemic and mucosal host immunity
  • Suppress growth of pathogenic bacteria and inhibit the production of harmful substances

No claims are approved in India, as in the EU (although Yakult has a claim submitted for approval), but a FOSHU (Food for specified health uses) immunity and gut health claim exists in Japan.

All bottles are produced domestically at the JV’s plant at Sonepat, Haryana.

Distribution is achieved in supermarkets and high volume retailers, bakeries, chemists, hospitals and small retailers.

Danone Dahi

Outside of the JV Danone has debuted a mineral and vitamin-fortified yoghurt called Danone Dahi selling initially in supermarkets and grocery stores in Mumbai and Pune.

The yoghurts contain iron, iodine, zinc and Vitamin A and sell for 27 rupees (€0.45) for 400gm pot and 14 rupees (€0.23) for a 150gm pot.

The brand is being marketed with the strap: “Dahi that keeps you smiling”.

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