How is Yakult Made?

The step-by-step production of Yakult

Yakult’s “purpose built” Australian factory is a technologically advanced manufacturing facility. It incorporates some of the latest food processing equipment. Strict standards apply to producing Yakult, ensuring a drink yield that is close to 99% (this means that 99% of the raw ingredients end up in the bottle). There are no by-products and little waste. The Yakult factory is based in Dandenong, Victoria and makes Yakult for the whole of Australia and New Zealand.

Step 1

Dissolving raw ingredients

Water used is filtered by reverse osmosis to remove the chlorides and fluorides, which is then sterilised using ultraviolet light and stored in a large holding tank before being used in the production process.

Skim milk powder, sugar and dextrose are mixed with filtered, sterilised water to make a milk solution.

Step 2

Sterilisation

The milk solution is sterilised at a high temperature (above 100°C) for a short time, destroying any bacteria that may be present. This process is called HTST (High Temperature, Short Time). The solution is then transferred to a fermentation tank via a closed system of pipes and valves.

Step 3

Fermentation

Live Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain, cultured and tested in our laboratory, is added to the tank and mixed with the milk solution. The temperature of the tank is then reduced until the contents are at 37°C (human body temperature). The solution ferments in the tank until the numbers of Lactobacillus casei bacteria reach their ideal concentration.

Step 4

Homogenisation

After the fermentation period, the milk solution undergoes a process known as homogenization. The fermented milk is placed under high pressure while passing through a structure with small holes creating a smooth consistency.

Step 5

Blending, Mixing and Storage

The fermented milk solution is blended with a citrus flavour and is transferred to a large storage tank containing chilled sugar syrup. The tank is chilled to around 2°C.

Step 6

Dilution

Prior to bottling, the concentrate is diluted with equal amounts of filtered, sterilised water.

Step 7

Injection Blow Moulding Machine

Citrus flavour is added to the concentrate.

Step 8

Bottle Storage Tank

Sterile air transports the empty bottles to one of two large bottle storage tanks that are capable of storing 750,000 bottles each.

Step 9

Bottle Selector

Empty bottles are released from the bottle storage tank into a large circular selector which places the bottles in an upright position before being fed onto the filling line.

Step 10

Printing Station

Bottles move along the conveyer belt to the printing station where the name “Yakult” and the appropriate labelling information are printed on the bottle in an instant-drying, red ink. Yakult Light has a pre-printed sleeve placed around the bottle which is individually cut and heat shrunk onto the empty bottle. A use-by date ink is printed on the curved waist of the bottle.

Step 11

Filling, Capping & Sealing Machine

The filling machine has the capacity to fill 40,000 bottles of Yakult per hour. After the bottles are filled with Yakult, they are capped with a foil lid, sealed and transferred along the conveyor belt to the packaging facility.

Step 12

Control Panel

This machine is fully computerised and controls the flow of production. Different coloured lights indicate any areas that need attention.

Step 13

Shrink-Wrap & Packaging Machine

Single bottles of Yakult are sorted into groups of five or ten and shrink-wrapped. 5 x ten packs or 10 x five packs are grouped together, wrapped in film and then heat shrunk, forming a “slab” of 50 Yakult bottles.

Step 14

Finished Product

Single bottles of Yakult are sorted into groups of five or ten and shrink-wrapped. 5 x ten packs or 10 x five packs are grouped together, wrapped in film and then heat shrunk, forming a “slab” of 50 Yakult bottles.

Step 15

Robotic Arm

Slabs are then transferred on to a pallet by our robotic arm. The stacked pallet is wrapped and transported to the cold storage facility.

Step 16

Cold Storage facility

Pallets are stored at a temperature of 2-3°C whilst awaiting delivery to the stores in our cold storage facility. An energy and space efficient storage method is used in the facility.

Step 17

Distribution

Refrigerated trucks deliver Yakult to the warehouses of the major supermarket chains (e.g. Woolworths and Coles) for distribution to individual supermarkets. Yakult is delivered directly to independent supermarkets, milk bars, schools, hotels, aged care centres, hospitals and other outlets by our sales consultants.

Step 18

Yakult Quality Management

Yakult maintains a comprehensive Quality Management Program in order to ensure that our product is of the highest quality. For this reason, samples are collected for laboratory analysis throughout the production process to confirm that the quality assurance measures in place have been effective.

Yakult testing involves more than 120 samples per production run, upon which a total of more than 200 tests are conducted. These determine Lactobacillus casei numbers, check for potential contaminants, microbiological quality, composition, acidity, physical attributes and taste. In addition, each bottle is inspected for undesirable markings and incorrect printing.

Quality assurance measures are in place to maintain standards for personnel and factory hygiene, equipment cleaning, processing methods and parameters, and product handling. Yakult’s quality assurance utilises a system called “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points” (HACCP). The principles of HACCP are internationally recognised as an excellent method for assuring stringently high standards.

Step 19

Waste Management

Cleaning. Yakult adheres to a comprehensive hygiene and sanitation program, following a cleaning program that is predominantly governed by CIP (Cleaning in Place). Steam, an environmentally friendly cleaner, is used to sterilise the pipes and tanks. A single phase chemical cleaner is used, reducing the numbers of chemicals introduced into the drains, chlorine-based chemicals are not used.

Solid wastes. The amount of solid waste is relatively small, and a number of measures are made to reduce waste. Recycling occurs where it is economically and environmentally viable. Paper products (skim milk powder bags, etc.) are recycled. The bottles are crushed and mixed with other resin to be made into a variety of plastic products, e.g. chairs and tables.

Liquid wastes. Any liquid waste goes into a holding tank in our water treatment facility. The acidity (pH) of the water is adjusted with acid or alkaline to meet Melbourne Water standards before being released into the sewage system.

Step 20

Energy Management

Yakult has a commitment to using energy efficiently and wisely for sound environmental and economic reasons. The factory incorporates the latest equipment and techniques to reduce the amount of energy used. For example:

  • All fluids are heated using heat exchange plates.
  • All machinery is well maintained to function optimally, ensuring energy is not lost or wasted.
  • No CFC’s are used in cooling or refrigeration.
  • Off peak rates are used for utilities whenever possible. For example, the ice bank water storage keeps all water at 0°C using compressors that are run in the evenings, during off peak rates.
  • Our boiler uses natural gas and is run for short periods as required (therefore no pollution is emitted).
  • Longer lasting and mercury-free LED lighting have replaced all florescent lighting in our manufacturing plant and head office, helping to reduce the demands we make on the planet, and our energy consumption.

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