Yakult Danone India Introduces Shilpa Shetty as New Brand Ambassador

Yakult Danone India Pvt. Ltd., a 50:50 joint venture between Yakult Honsha, Japan and Groupe Danone, France, both global leaders in probiotics announced Bollywood Diva Shilpa Shetty Kundra as their new Brand Ambassador. This comes in wake of the company’s concerted plans to spread the health benefits of Probiotics and Yakult among Indian consumers which was the main highlight of the press conference today. Present on the occasion were Mr Minoru Shimada, Managing Director, Yakult Danone India Pvt. Ltd., Bollywood Celebrity Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Dr Neerja Hajela, General Manager – Science and Regulatory Affairs, Yakult Danone India Pvt. Ltd.

In light of the fact that India is grappling with lifestyle disorders and health issues due to factors like unbalanced diet, stress, lack of sleep, inadequate physical activity, irregular working hours and improper nutrition, there is an urgent need to find solutions that can counter the growing threat. Fascinating insights have shown that the largest immune organ of our body or the intestine is vital in determining our state of health because it contains more than 70% of the immune cells of the human body which improve our overall immunity and keep us protected.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Minoru Shimada, Managing Director, Yakult Danone India Pvt. Ltd. remarked, “India with a population of more than 1.2 billion ranks very high in our list of priorities”. With growing consumer interest in holistic health, the concept of Functional Foods that provide a health benefit besides basic nutrition is becoming increasingly important. Interestingly the concept was introduced in Japan in the early 1900’s, when Japan was an economically weak county, people were dying due to disease and heath care costs were very high. The Functional Food concept focuses on prevention of disease through foods rather than treatment with medicine.  Our Founder, Dr. Minoru Shirota, a Microbiologist from the Kyoto University in Japan, firmly believed that a healthy intestine was key to a long disease free life. Intrigued by the fact that 100 trillion bacteria are present in the intestine which play a very important role in determining health, he successfully isolated a probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS) that significantly improved intestinal health and immunity. He  introduced it in a fermented milk drink called Yakult which was launched in  Japan in 1935.  The introduction of Yakult was very useful in improving the health of people in Japan who were suffering from diarrhoea, dysentery and other infectious diseases.Yakult is being consumed by more than 35 million people in 33 countries and regions across the world.

In India, Yakult is being manufactured in a state of the art production facility in Sonepat Haryana. While Yakult is the most iconic brand in Japan, China and Indonesia, India is a challenging market for us because of limited awareness about the benefits of probiotics. Our focus has therefore been on education and we are pleased to see that more and more Indian consumers are making Yakult a part of their daily diet for its health benefits. This is also being reflected in the sale trend which is growing year on year and our business which operates across 13 cities presently will see a faster growth in the coming years because of Yakult’s well established health benefits. We operate through our Retail route and unique Home Delivery system with about 260 Yakult Ladies in India. Globally this is a very well established system with more than 80,000 Yakult ladies whom we also call our ambassadors of good health. This system is not just about selling our product but a reflection of the company’s objective of promoting good health to one and all.

Speaking on Yakult’s association with Bollywood Actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Mr Shimada said, “We are proud to have Shilpa Shetty as our brand ambassador as she is synonymous with good health, fitness and an active lifestyle. Having carved a niche for herself in the health and fitness space, Shilpa is completely in sync with “Shirota-ism” our core ideology which focuses on the idea of “prevention being better than cure” and “a healthy intestine leads to a long life”. I am confident that this association will go a long way in making our brand more visible, vibrant and powerful. With Shilpa’s engagement, we are reaching out to consumers through a new Television commercial and a host of new promotional activities which will help us to disseminate the health benefits of Yakult.”

Excited about associating with Yakult, Bollywood Diva Shilpa Shetty remarked that “I was over awed by the scientific revelation about probiotics and intrigued to know that a healthy intestine is the key to good health not only because it is responsible for absorption of nutrients but also for the fact that more than 70% of the immune cells are found there.  I am very careful about my association with brands and therefore it was important for me to visit the Yakult factory to learn more about the little bottle that contains 6.5 billion Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota. My trip to the factory at Sonepat was an eye-opener and I was very impressed with the stringent quality control and state of the art production facility which parallels global standards. The knowledge that I gained during my visit was immense and I learned that regular consumption of Yakult is important for everyone in the family because it can improve your overall immunity by keeping your intestine strong and healthy.  Totally convinced, I am now a regular consumer of Yakult and more and more people in my family have started consuming it.

According to Dr Neerja Hajela, General Manager – Science and Regulatory Affairs, Yakult Danone India Pvt. Ltd., “the intestine is being recognized as a very important organ for determining your state of health because it harbours 100 trillion organisms (intestinal flora) which weigh almost 2 kg and are referred to as the “Forgotten Organ”. These organisms play a very important role in ensuring proper digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, building immunity and producing essential vitamins like Vitamin B and K and keeping you protected”.  Unbalanced diet, Stress, unhygienic conditions, antibiotics, lack of sleep and pollution can disturb the balance of the intestinal flora which negatively influences our immunity making us prone to infection. Scientific evidence has shown that “Probiotics” which act by favorably modulating the intestinal flora help in restoring the balance and thereby improve health and prevent disease.

Globally, Probiotics have been recognized as promising gastrointestinal and immune targets that include maintenance of a healthy intestinal function, improved tolerance to antibiotics and an overall reduced risk for different diseases.

Probiotic benefits are strain specific and it is important that every probiotic is backed by its own scientific studies. Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, the probiotic bacteria in Yakult is backed by more than 80 years of scientific heritage with more than 100 human studies to validate its safety and health benefits.