Yakult

“The Netherlands is the gateway to the rest of Europe. People are well qualified and they speak English. It is an open country with superior dairy technology and a nation receptive to innovative dairy products.

Almere/Flevoland is unique within the Netherlands because of its space and attractive, spaciously constructed modern living environment that offers value for money. Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport and the Japanese community of Amstelveen are half an hour away. Its central location and easy accessibility offer favourable conditions for setting up distribution operations.

The good water quality found in this region of the Netherlands is also very important to Yakult. Besides, local government’s attractive incentives for the establishment of industry here and the presence of the Flevoland Development Agency and the World Trade Centre represent added value to overseas and export businesses.”

Yakult has had its European head office in Almere since 1994. It is also Yakult’s only European production site. The production and European marketing and distribution of the fermented dairy drink in its familiar yellow and red bottle provides employment to about three hundred people in Europe, half of whom work in Almere.

The Japanese company was founded in 1935 by Doctor Minoru Shirota. He succeeded in cultivating lactic acid that could survive gastric acid, thus reaching the intestine live. Higher acidity levels in the intestines curb the growth of bad bacteria, thereby promoting healthy intestinal flora; important for digestion, regular bowel movements and natural resistance. The unique bacteria strain was named after the physician: the Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS).

The thirties were dominated by many diseases and epidemics, many people were malnourished and ill. Shirota sought a method of reaching those who had a low resistance with his concept and its preventative effect. He developed the Yakult dairy drink; a name inspired by the Esperanto word for yoghurt, and distributed it through community nurses. It was a success and in 1955, the head office was established in Tokyo and the Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research in Kyoto. To this day, it remains a renowned institute in the field of scientific research into probiotics in foodstuffs, cosmetics and medicines. Meanwhile, over 25 million people worldwide drink a bottle of Yakult daily, ingesting 6.5 billion ‘beneficial’ bacteria (in addition to the approximately 150 billion bacteria inhabiting in the stomach) as they do so.

Blaauw: “Yakult now also has a pharmaceutical and cosmetic branch in Japan, which brings other functional foods to the market in addition to bottles of Yakult. Key to all our activities is that Yakult offers people health on a scientific basis. We do that by means of a long-term vision. Introduction to the market takes place after thorough assessment. Having penetrated the market of a country, we make sure the product is fit for purpose before we steam ahead to the next country.”

Why did Yakult opt for the Netherlands as its European base? Blaauw: “The Netherlands is the gateway to the rest of Europe. People are well qualified and they speak English. The Netherlands is a dairy producing country through and through. It is an open country with superior dairy technology and a nation receptive to innovative dairy products, such as those containing probiotics. Yakult was the first to introduce these to the European market and found a good ’home market’ in the Netherlands.”

Yakult operates out of Almere/Flevoland. “Almere is unique because of its space and attractive, spaciously constructed modern living environment that offers value for money. Living here is a pleasure. The road network provides dedicated bus and cycle lanes. Due to the layout of the area, you are never far from schools and shops. Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport and the Japanese community of Amstelveen are half an hour away. Its central location and easy accessibility offer favourable conditions for setting up distribution operations. Travelling to and from Almere in the mornings and evenings, you always go against the traffic.”

The exceptional water quality found in this region of the Netherlands is also very important to Yakult; water is one of the ingredients of Yakult”, says Blaauw. “Besides, the presence of the World Trade Centre in Almere and the Flevoland Development Agency represent added value to overseas and export businesses. This in conjunction with attractive incentives for the establishment of industry here – local government authorities welcome new businesses, they appreciate them and contribute towards their reputations – makes for a perfect environment for a successful business."

Visit: www.yakult.nl(Dutch)

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