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Coca-Cola to roll out experimental alcoholic drink in Japan

DBR Staff Writer Published 08 March 2018

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has unveiled plans to launch an alcoholic drink for the first time in the company's 132-year history.

The company plans to develop its own version of Chu-Hi, a Japanese alcopop.

Chu-Hi are canned beverages that feature flavoured sparkling water and distilled alcohol, shochu.

In order to cater to the younger consumers who are health conscious, Coca-Cola is expanding its business away from traditional added sugar fizzy drinks.

Coca-Cola has been struggling in recent years with dropping sales. Net revenues declined 20% to $7.5bn for the fourth quarter of 2017 and decreased 15% to $35.4bn for the year.

Coca-Cola, with its more than 130 year history, has always produced non-alcoholic drinks, with an exception to acquiring a winery back in 1977 and selling it to Seagrams in 1983.

Coca-Cola Japan business unit president Jorge Garduño said the entry into the alcoholic market marked a new era of experimentation for the company. 

Garduño said: "Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages, and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of our market."

Japanese alcoholic beverage producers including Suntory, Aasahi, Kirin, and others have been are already producing Chu Hi drinks.

The company has been experimenting in the Japanese market for quite some time. Coca-Cola Japan launches an average of 100 new products every year. Last year, it introduced Coca Cola Plus, a drink that contains fiber.

In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the company carried out several new, key initiatives and programs, from launching new bottle designs to testing new products and flavors.

Coca-Cola said that it would probably sell the alcoholic drink only in Japan, because of the unique and special qualities of the market.

Garduño has been with Coca-Cola since 1992, working in various areas of the world. He has been in charge of the Japanese business since July 2017, working in partnership with the local bottling system.

Image: Coca-Cola, with its more than 130 year history, has always produced non-alcoholic drinks. Photo: Courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company.