Coca-Cola is planning to produce an alcoholic
drink for the first time in the company’s 125-year
history – with an alcopop-style product 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
The product is typically between 3% and 8%
alcohol by volume.
A senior Coke executive in Japan said the move
was a “modest experiment for a specific slice of
“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,” said Jorge Garduno, Coca-Cola’s
It was unlikely the drink would be sold outside of
Japan, he suggested.
Chu-Hi – an abbreviation for shochu highball –
has been marketed as an alternative to beer,
proving especially popular with female drinkers.
Japan’s big drinks firms including Kirin, Suntory
and Asahi all have varieties of the drink, and
continue to experiment with flavours.
The most popular flavours are strong citrus ones
such as grapefruit or lemon, but the drink can
also be made with other fruit flavours like grape,
apple and peach.
As younger consumers become more health
conscious, Coca-Cola has been diversifying from
fizzy drinks, including buying water and tea
But 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 typically refers to sweet but
alcoholic drinks, and in 1990s UK brands 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.