Coca-Colas Japan president said the launch was unique in the companys history

Coca-Cola's Japan president said the launch was unique in the company's history

The Coca-Cola Co is to launch its first alcoholic drink in Japan, the company has revealed.

In an interview published on the Coca-Cola website last month, Coca-Cola Japan president Jorge Garduño said his unit is to launch a chuhai drink into the Japanese market, tapping into growing demand in the country for the spirit-and-soda RTD. According to Garduño, the as-yet unnamed beverage will be low in alcohol and serves as an example of how Coca-Cola "[continues] to explore opportunities outside our core areas".

Garduño called the launch a "modest experiment" but one that is unique in Coca-Cola's history as the company has "always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages".

"Globally, it's not uncommon for non-alcoholic beverages to be sold in the same system as alcoholic beverages," Garduño said. "It makes sense to give this a try in our market." 

The chuhai drink marks a departure for Coca-Cola, which like other big soft drinks makers has traditionally shunned producing alcoholic drinks. However, Garduño said the drink's expansion to other markets is unlikely.

"While many markets are becoming more like Japan," he said, "I think the culture here is still very unique and special, so many products that are born here will stay here."

When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola said: "We don't have any additional information to share beyond the post on our website at this time."

Coca-Cola has played in the alcohol category before. From 1977-1983 it owned a champagne and still wine subsidiary called Wine Spectrum. According to the New York Times, the company sold the subsidiary to Seagram for US$200m.

Does The Coca-Cola Co's alcohol move signal a new direction? - Comment

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