You may never have heard of Yakult, but it isn’t new. The probiotic yogurt drink was created in Japan in 1930. But the yogurt drink is reaching a new level a popularity, but not for the usual reasons. This drink was featured in the Netflix original movie, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
The movie follows an Asian American girl in high school, and makes tons of nostalgic references, including references to Korean and other Asian snack foods. Does this yogurt drink have what it takes to make it in a saturated yogurt market? Can it be one of the few Asian snack foods to make a huge impact in American markets? At the very least this red-foil capped yogurt drink is an example of “Bountiful Choice,” one of the Top Food Trends of 2018.
Europe has overtaken the American yogurt market. Chobani, Fage, and other brands have made Greek yogurt wildly popular in the states. Siggi’s is also trying to introduce skyr, an Icelandic yogurt, to American audiences. And if that wasn’t enough, the standby Yoplait is trying to hold on with their French-style Oui line and their many other textures and flavors in their expansive line.
The yogurt aisle has an almost overwhelming amount of choices. But Yakult’s drinkable yogurt offers something slightly different from its European and American competition.
While Greek yogurt has a very thick consistency and a very strong sour flavor, Yakult has a thinner texture for easy drinkability and a fruity and slightly sweet flavor. This flavor might be perfect for American consumers who are constantly mixing their yogurt with fruit anyway.
The watery consistency and small 2.7oz bottle is perfect for on-the-go consumers. The ingredient list is rather short and contains few ingredients that choosy mothers would be too concerned to give to their children.
Asian snack foods are extremely varied. And even as immigration has increased in the US and the food industry has become more globalized, snack foods from Asia have had a hard time making it over the Pacific. You can find a few Japanese snacks and sweets such as Pocky in stores across the US, but nothing compares to the reach of Greek yogurt in America.
Maybe the growing cult of Yakult is signaling a trend or a need in the market for more globalized snack foods and, in particular, snack foods from Asia that are easier to get at the grocery store.
For Yakult, the brand’s viral popularity came just in time. The company’s shares rose 2.6 percent after appearing in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Just a few months after shares fell in February. While not every brand is lucky enough to have successful product placement, maybe consumers are getting tired of Greek yogurt like they have been having for years and are ready to try yogurt from other parts of the world.