Coca-Cola breaks with tradition to produce its first alcoholic drink

Coca-Cola breaks with tradition to produce its first alcoholic drink

The Coca-Cola beverage company is set to launch its own brand of alcopop drinks in Japan. It will be the first alcoholic drink produced by the company in its 125-year history.

Coca-Cola will make “Chu-Hi” drinks, which are canned beverages that contain alcohol. The alcohol content of Chu-Hi alcopops ranges from 3 percent to 8 percent, and their popularity has grown between 5 and 25 percent year on year since 2013.

Coca-Cola to launch an alcoholic ‘Chu-Hi’ drink

It looks like the 1971 Coca-Cola song, ‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’, from the ‘world’s most famous ad’ may have to be updated to include an alcohol warning, after Coca-Cola announced plans to launch an alcoholic drink in Japan.

In a February 2018 interview on the Coca Cola Japan website, the president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit Jorge Garduño said the company is planning to ‘experiment’ with an alcoholic drink.

‘We’re also going to experiment with a product in a category known in Japan as Chu-Hi. This is a canned drink that includes alcohol,’ Garduño said

What is Chu-Hi?

As Garduño explains, Chu-Hi is a canned drink that contains alcohol: ‘Traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water, plus some flavoring.’

It has a low alcohol content, usually between 3-8 percent and the market is now saturated with hundreds of flavours that include everything from peach to salty grapefruit.

The demand for Chu-Hi drinks appears high with the market growth fluctuating everywhere between 5 and 25 percent, according to the Financial Times.

Garduño explains the reasoning for Coca-Cola’s alcoholic venture: ‘Globally, it’s not uncommon for non-alcoholic beverages to be sold in the same system as alcoholic beverages. It makes sense to give this a try in our market.’

Will alcoholic Coca-Cola be rolled out worldwide?

It doesn’t look as if alcoholic Coca-Cola will be appearing on off-licence shelves worldwide any time soon. As Garduño explains, this is a ‘unique’ and ‘modest experiment for a specific slice of our market’.

‘The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan. But I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola.’

He goes on to say that Japanese culture is very unique and so , ‘so many products that are born here will stay here’.

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