Japan is Getting Coca Cola’s Very First Alcoholic Drink

Coca-Cola will introduce an alcoholic drink in Japan within the year, expanding business from its traditional line of carbonated beverages.

The company is banking on Japan’s demand for chūhai (aka Chu-Hi), or canned drinks made of sparkling water and shōchū, a liquor typically distilled from rice, barley, sugar or sweet potatoes.

Image via Wikimedia Commons / Corpse Reviver (CC BY 3.0)

Chu-Hi drinks often contain 3% to 8% of alcohol, putting them in direct competition with beer, according to the Financial Times.

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Local brands such as Asahi, Kirin, Suntory and Takara have already been making such drinks, which come in different flavors.

Yohko Okabe, a spokesperson for Coke, told CNN that the new product is a “highly Japan-specific approach given the complexity and richness” of the company’s market in the country.

Image via Flickr / Danny Choo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola Japan, previously laid out the plan in February, describing it as an “experiment”:

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“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.”

Image via Flickr / jun1 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Interestingly, a U.S.-based analyst at Wells Fargo speculated about Coke’s move into alcohol months earlier.

There is no word whether Americans will have similar alcoholic drinks any time soon, but CEO James Quincey is open to the idea.

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“Never say never,” he told CNN in an earlier interview.

Feature Image via YouTube/Takaski

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