Japanese probiotics group Yakult has reported its annual results – including lower sales but higher earnings – and outlined its revenue and operating profit targets for the next three years.

Net income rose to JPY30.15bn (US$265.7m) in the year to the end of March compared to JPY28.84bn in the year-ago period. However, operating income fell to JPY37.28bn from JPY40.06bn previously.

Net sales dipped to JPY378.30bn compared to JPY390.41 in the corresponding period a year ago.

Net sales in Yakult’s food and beverages division in Japan increased to JPY204.13bn compared to JPY198.959bn in the previous year. However, overseas sales in the division dipped to JPY146.416bn versus JPY158.48bn previously.

Sales in the Americas for the period fell to JPY45.25bn versus JPY52.73bn in the year-ago period. In Asia and Oceania, net sales fell to JPY93.36bn compared to JPY97.12bn previously. Europe sales were down to JPY7.8bn versus JPY8.6bn in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, Yakult has unveiled its growth plans for the next few years up to 2020. The company said it aims to achieve total sales of JPY454bn in fiscal 2020 with total operating income for that year of JPY57bn.

The company’s target includes increased consolidated food and beverage sales to JPY234bn in 2020 – an increase of nearly JPY30bn from the present. This would include producing 10.50m bottles of dairy product per day by 2020, which is an increase of 1.13m bottles per day over latest production totals.

Yakult said it plans to build on the “continued growth” of the probiotics market in growing sales of its food and beverages business in Japan while promoting products that appeal to the “increasing health-consciousness in emerging countries”.

The company said “domestic business reconstruction” and “strengthening and expanding” Yakult as “the No.1 probiotics beverage” could yield a JPY29.9bn increase in sales from food and beverages to JPY234bn in consolidated sales by 2020. Yakult forecasts this would lead to a JPY11.2bn increase in operating income from food and beverages alone, amounting to a projected JPY25bn by 2020.