Coca-Cola shares closed higher in the US Tuesday, as the drinks maker said it would begin making an alcoholic beverage for its Japanese market. This is the first time in the company’s 130-year history it will sell a product containing alcohol.
Coca-Cola shares closed 0.14% higher at $43.93. However, after-hours activity currently has the stock in the red.
Experimental Japanese Market
The drink will be for the low-alcohol market in Japan and is designed to take advantage of the country’s growing appetite for an alco-pop product called Chu Hi, that contains a distilled drink called schochu.
The drink is a popular alternative to beer in Japan and is proving popular with the female population.
“We’re going to experiment with a product in a category known in Japan as Chu-Hi,” said president of Coca-Cola’s Japan unit, Jorge Garduño, in a recent interview published on the company’s website.
“This is a canned drink that includes alcohol; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water, plus some flavoring. 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,” he added.
He also said it’s unlikely the drink will become available outside of Japan.
“This is unique in our history. Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages, and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of our market,” Garduño said.
Coca-Cola expands offerings
While this may be the famous drinks company’s first foray into the alcoholic beverage market, experimenting with new drinks isn’t a new path for the business.
It’s Japanese market tests up to 100 new products each year. And, although other markets aren’t as adventurous as that, Coca-Cola has expanded into different flavoured teas and water to help satisfy the younger audience’s appetite for healthier drinks.