After dominating markets making and selling beverages from water and milk to iced tea and many kinds of flavored sugar-water for more than 125 years, the Coca-Cola company is delving into the alcohol market.
Coca-Cola Japan has announced plans to produce and sell a low-alcoholic drink known as Chuhai, exclusively in the Japanese market. Chūhai, is essentially a watered-down mix of the shōchū spirit plus flavoring.
But those outside the Japanese market shouldn’t get too excited about seeing alcoholic Coke products on their shelves.
The company’s Japan president, Jorge Garduño, in an interview said: “The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan. 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. But I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola.”
Coke’s Japanese business is unusually experimental, trying out 100 new products on average each year. Along with the new Chu-Hi, the firm will this year also launch the excitingly-named “THE TANSAN,” which Garduño said “features the strongest carbonation ever in our products in this country, to reach health conscious adult sparkling lovers.”
Last year, it launched a version of Coke with added fiber, called Coca-Cola Plus, with Japan’s ageing population in mind.
“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 noted.