In 1997, Yamaha Motor began researching micro-plankton propagation as a means to convert carbon dioxide into value-added substances and reduce greenhouse gases.
In 2005, the company built its Life Science laboratory and established its Life Science Division, entering the field of biotechnology. In 2006, the company began supplying PURESTA, a new product of its Life Science Division, to food and cosmetics/skincare manufacturers as an astaxanthin ingredient. One year later, the company released ASTIVO, an astaxanthin-based health supplement, to the general market, marking Yamaha Motor's full-fledged entry into the life sciences industry.
Despite these efforts, however, the cumulative sales for the three fiscal years between 2007 and 2009 did not exceed 500 million yen ($6M USD), proving market demand and the growth rate to be far below initial estimates.
The rapid appreciation of the yen and other conditions in the current business environment has made Yamaha to work on improving its profitability and began reorganizing factories, optimizing personnel allocation and cutting costs.
“In light of these circumstances, Yamaha Motor has determined that continuing to invest in its Life Science Division is unfeasible. The company has therefore decided to withdraw from the business, and redirect the limited corporate assets available toward other investments,” a company statement reads.
The company plans to discontinue general market sales of ASTIVO as of the end of March 2011 and to relocate Life Science Division personnel within the company, a change that will effect the 49 Life Sciences employees.