Coca-Cola is already very much a staple of many people’s bar carts. You’ve got your rum and Coke and the Jack and Coke. Heck, some people even put red wine in their Coke. However, all of these do involve a little bit of mixing. Soon, though, we might be able to skip that step because this year, Coca-Cola has plans to begin testing an alcoholic beverage.
Recently, it was announced that Coca-Cola will start producing boozy beverages for its Japanese market. The news was first revealed during an interview with Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, about innovation in the country that was published on the company's website. When asked what new products Japanese consumers can expect from Coke in 2018, Garduño explained, "We’re also going to experiment with a product in a category known in Japan as Chu-Hi. This is a canned drink that includes alcohol."
If you're imagining that Japan is about to get canned rum and Cokes or something like that, you'd be wrong. That's not at all what Chu-Hi is. According to Garduño it's actually made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water. Usually, flavoring is also added to this Chu-Hi mixture.
Though Garduño said that this was the first time the company is working in "the low alcohol category," a Coke representative did tell us that Coca-Cola owned a subsidiary called Wine Spectrum from 1977 to 1983. So, it's not treading in completely unfamiliar waters.
As for whether stateside consumers can expect to completely replace the cans of Coke and bottles of liquor on our bar carts anytime soon, sadly that seems unlikely. At the end of the interview, Garduño put it plainly, "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."
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