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Coca-Cola to launch first alcoholic drink

The world’s largest soft drink company is eyeing the burgeoning demand for “Chu-Hi” – canned flavoured drinks laced with the spirit shochu.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2018 17:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A wooden Coca-Cola sign that was restored to its original status inside the Colorado town’s fire department.(Courtesy Coca-Cola)

Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is breaking from more than 130 years of tradition with plans to launch its first alcoholic drink aimed at Japan’s growing alcopop market.

The world’s largest soft drink company is eyeing the burgeoning demand for “Chu-Hi” – canned sparkling flavoured drinks laced with shochu, a spirit made from rice, potatoes or barley.

Chu-Hi is derived from “shochu highball” and has been marketed as an alternative to beer. The drinks have an alcohol content ranging between 3% and 8% and have been especially popular with women.

Details of the plans emerged in an interview with Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, that was posted on the company’s website. He described the move as “unique in our history”.

“We’re trying to push the boundaries to serve consumers in new ways…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; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water, plus some flavouring,” Garduño 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.”

He added, “Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages, and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of our market. The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan.

Garduño suggested it was unlikely the new drink would make its way out of Japan. “I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola. While many markets are becoming more like Japan, I think the culture here is still very unique and special, so many products that are born here will stay here,” he said.

Coca-Cola’s foray into the new area coincides with slowing sales worldwide of fizzy drinks, its main product, as people, especially youngsters opt for healthier choices.

Since it was created in May 1886 at a soda fountain in Atlanta, Georgia by John S Pemberton, the recipe for Coca-Cola has been kept a secret.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 17:07 IST