Coca-Cola to launch alcoholic drink

Coca-Cola is planning to produce an alcoholic drink for the first time in the company’s 125-year history in Japan.

It is keen to cash in on the country’s growing taste for Chu-Hi – canned sparkling flavoured drinks given a kick with a local spirit called shochu.

The product is typically between 3 per cent and 8 per cent alcohol by volume.

A senior Coke executive in Japan told BBC the move was a modest experiment for a specific slice of its market.

Jorge Garduno, Coca-Cola’s Japan president said, “We haven’t experimented in the low alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas.”

As the mordern consumer becomes more health conscious, Coca-Cola has been diversifying from fizzy drinks, including buying water and tea brands.

Last November, Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog speculated that Coca-Cola might move into alcohol, as it looked to “premium segments such as adult craft beverages”.

The phrase alcopop, with which the company hopes to model its alcoholic drink, typically refers to sweet but alcoholic drinks. In the 1990s UK brands of same content such as Hooch, Reef, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer became hugely popular.

But they were controversial, raising concerns that they encouraged young people to drink alcohol in large quantities because “they were so easy to consume”.

It is, however, still unclear whether the alcoholic drink would be sold outside of Japan, Mr. Garduno noted.

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