Coca-Cola plans to launch first alcoholic drink

The canned beverage will be released in Japan later this year

Coca-Cola has become one of the most recognised brands in the entire world ever since it was first launched 131 years ago.

However, the company is preparing to enter an entirely new sector by launching its very first alcoholic beverage in Japan.

According to president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit Jorge Garduño, there are currently plans in place for the company to release its very own version of Chu-Hi later this year.

Chu-Hi is a canned drink that originated in Japan and typically has a low alcohol content.

“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 explained in an interview published on the company’s website last month.

“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 ares.

In November last year, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey spoke to CNBC about the prospect of experimenting with alcoholic products.

“Philosophically, I never say never about most things, but the way I look at it, there’s just so much more we already have strength and capability in, it just doesn’t make sense to do that next,” he said.

While Quincey may have initially been dubious about the advantages of dabbling in alcohol, it seems that Coca-Cola has now decided to that it is a worthy venture.

“It makes sense to give this a try in our market,” said Garduño .

However consumers from outside of Japan who are keen to try the new alcoholic drink may have to wait a while before they have the opportunity.

“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,” Garduño explained.

Even though Coca-Cola’s Chu-Hi drink will be its first alcoholic product, this isn’t the first time the company has been involved in the alcohol industry.

In 1977, chairman, president and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company John Paul Austin helped to launch Coca-Cola’s Wine Spectrum unit, which included Sterling Vineyards, Monterey Vineyard and the Taylor Wine Company.

In 1983, the Wine Spectrum unit was bought by Joseph E. Seagram & Sons for more than $200 million (£144 million).

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