People’s lived experience and opinions may be unalike with their different backgrounds, but each bring a unique perspective to discourse in Singapore. In this series, Ignite Media’s youth writers pen down their raw thoughts in hopes of sparking conversation on different topics ranging from trivial debate to serious social issues.
In every supermarket, a deadly war has been brewing for almost 45 years between two unsuspecting drinks in the refrigerated aisle. In packs of five, these palm sized bottles accompanied with red text have been childhood staples — probiotic drinks.
On one side of the battle front, Japanese probiotic drink Yakult has helmed its fort since 1979 in Singapore. It is the only probiotic drink L. casei strain Shirota, a probiotic strain formulated by its founder Dr. Minoru Shirota. Yakult comes in four flavours — original, orange, grape, and green apple — and has a less-sugar sister product, Yakult Ace Light and Yakult Light.
On the other side, Vitagen is the first cultured drink available in Singapore. The Singaporean drink nested itself in households in 1977 and was relaunched as Vitagen less sugar in 2005 to suit the health-conscious lifestyles of Singaporeans. Vitagen comes in four flavours — original, grape, apple and peach — and has a collagen-filled sibling product, Vitagen Collagen Less Sugar.
These childhood drinks are treasured by Singaporeans for its childhood nostalgia, taste, and health benefits. For those that have grown up with the drink and now have turned into legal adults, probiotic drinks have also found a questionably sacrilegious role as a mixer for their alcoholic beverages.
Today, the question of which drink resign supreme in Singapore wages on — Mothership reports that in 2021, Yakult claimed to own 70 per cent of the “total cultured drink market share”, while Vitagen crowns itself as the “No. 1 less sugar cultured milk drink in Singapore”.
While the battle between both brands as the true ruler of the Singaporean’s digestive health continues on, Ignite’s writers weigh in — which probiotic drink reigns supreme.
The eternal question — Yakult or Vitagen?
Those who say, “hurr durr Vitagen is healthy” are spitting obvious lies. Let’s be real — nobody who is healthy drinks Vitagen frequently or considers it a vegetable.
Hence, one should not base the comparison of probiotic drinks on healthiness, but on taste. Both drinks are, after all, essentially dessert-like indulgence.
But would you rather have a delicious, savoury punch of heavenly sweetness or a thick, creamy mess that is, at best, a poor Yakult impersonation?
– Keith Lim, 21
If I’m honest, if I were to blind test two identical cups — one with Yakult and the other with Vitagen — there is a high likelihood I couldn’t tell one from the other. But I still like Yakult more.
Yakult is the original brand, the “scotch tape” of the probiotic industry. Even as I type this, the word “Yakult” is recognised by Microsoft Word’s spellcheck while “Vitagen” gets a red squiggly line underneath and is detected as a spelling mistake.
Though my family buys Vitagen for its less sugar option, I still call it Yakult; what can I say, its brand presence is just more prominent.
– Joy Lai, 20
My preference for Vitagen is because of my personal experience with the drink, and not because of the taste!
Back in kindergarten, they would give us a kids’ booklet when we bought a pack of the cultured milk drink. It was really fun to do the activities in it and read about the fight between the “good bacteria” and the “bad bacteria”!
I remember being really excited whenever there was a new booklet! Vitagen is the first cultured milk drink I ever had and I still keep the booklets today as a childhood memory.
Though to be honest, in terms of taste, I do feel that both Vitagen and Yakult are comparable.
– Daphne Yow, 22
As someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, Yakult has always been a tad too sweet for me. However, a more subjective but honest reason why I prefer Vitagen is because I have fond memories associated with the drink.
My uncle always has a constant surplus of Vitagen in his fridge because he’d buy it from his neighbour with special needs, and he would always offer me Vitagen whenever I came to his house. So I like Vitagen more because it reminds me of the good times I spent with my uncle.
– Nicole Shiu, 20