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Coca-Cola to move into alcohol

The Coca-Cola Company is preparing to move into alcohol with the launch of a low-abv shōchū-based beverage in the Japanese market.

Soft drink giant The Coca-Cola Company is planning to launch a shochu-based beverage

Jorge Garduño, president of the company’s Japan business unit, said that there are plans to ”experiment” with Chu-Hi, a canned alcoholic drink popular in Japan.

“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 on the company’s website.

“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.”

The company, which launched in 1886, is best known for its flagship soft drink brand, Coca-Cola.

Garduño said that historically the company has “always focused entirely” on the non-alcoholic category.

He continued: “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.

“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.”

This is not the first time the company has shown an interest in alcohol. The soft drinks giant was involved in the wine industry from 1977 to 1983 through its Wine Spectrum unit, which it sold to Seagram’s in November 1983.

According to a recent report, global spirits consumption is predicted to hit 3.16 billion cases by 2021, with ‘national spirits’ such as baijiu, soju and Indian whisky retaining significant market share.

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