Global beverage giant Coca-Cola has announced plans to manufacture its first ever alcoholic beverage - an alcopop for the Japanese market.
The canned beverage known as "chu-hi" is traditionally sweet and fizzy and is made with Japanese liquor called shochu. Once considered a lemon-flavoured drink, but these days they come in hundreds of flavours.
This is the first time in Coke's 125-year history that it has made its own alcoholic product, and the company describes the move as a “modest experiment”.
"It makes sense to give this a try in our market,” Jorge Garduno, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit said. “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.”
Euromonitor International head of soft drinks Howard Telford said the move reflects the way that changing consumer tastes are pushing the company into less familiar areas like premium dairy, coffee, tea and now low-alcohol flavoured drinks.
“This also reflects a culture change at the company in terms of product development: company leadership have spoken recently about being less afraid to experiment in terms of innovation - and dipping a toe into this category makes particular sense in Japan where the style of beverage is more familiar to consumers and the pace of CPG innovation is faster.
“While I don’t think this represents a global shift in company strategy, I do think we can expect Coca-Cola and its competitors to continue looking for new opportunities as traditional category lines and beverage occasions blur.”