Coca-Cola to launch its first alcoholic drink

Soft drink company to part with tradition by launching version of Chu-Hi alcopop in Japan

Coca-Cola is to produce the first alcoholic drink in its 132 -year-history, with plans to launch an alcopop in Japan.

The world’s biggest soft drink company said it would start making a version of “Chu-Hi”- canned sparkling flavoured drinkings that include a local spirit called shochu.

The company, famous for its red label and secret Coca-Cola recipe, hopes to capitalise on the increase in popularity in Japan of Chu-Hi alcopops.

Sales of the drink, which ranges in alcohol content from 3-8 %, have surged over the past five years and it is particularly popular with female drinkers.

Jorge Garduno, Coca-Cola’s Japan chairman, told:” 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 .”

Garduno said Coca-Cola would probably sell its alcoholic drink merely in Japan, because of the” unique and special qualities” of the domestic market.

Sales of fizzy beverages are in decline worldwide as young people was increasingly health conscious, cutting down on sugar consumption. Coca-Cola has branched out into water, coffee and tea to plug the sales shortfall.

Despite the UK’s sugar tax coming into effect next month, Coca-Cola has no plans to change its sugar-laden recipe for its flagship drink. It has said ” people love the savor … and have told us not to change “. The group will use smaller bottles and sell at higher prices to offset the impact of the soft drink tax.

The company is also launching three new drinkings in the UK this year- the ice tea drinking Fuzetea, ready-to-drink cold coffee Honest Coffee, and the dairy-free smoothies brand AdeZ.

Last year a report from the analysts IRI depicted sales of bottled water surpassed cola for the first time as many UK customers turned to healthier options.

Howard Telford, head of soft drinks at Euromonitor International, a market research firm, said:” This is a departure for Coca-Cola, but I think this reflects the route that changing customer tastes are pushing the company into less familiar regions like premium dairy, coffee, tea and now low-alcohol flavoured beverages.

” While I don’t think this represents a global transformation in company strategy, I do think we can expect Coca-Cola and its challengers to continue go looking for new opportunities .”

According to Euromonitor, global intake of fizzy cola drinks fell 3.1% between 2012 and 2017, with double-digit declines in the US and Brazil. Coca-Cola controls 56.5% of the global market.

He told: ” The Chu-Hi category is determined almost exclusively in Japan. Globally, it’s not uncommon for non-alcoholic beverages to be sold in the same system as alcoholic beverages. It induces sense to give this a try in our market.”

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