It looks like the 1971 Coca-Cola song, I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke, from the "world's most famous ad" may have to be updated to include an alcohol warning, after Coca-Cola announced plans to launch an alcoholic drink in Japan.

In a February 2018 interview on the Coca Cola Japan website, the president of Coca-Cola's Japan business unit Jorge Garduño said the company is planning to "experiment" with an alcoholic drink, the Daily Mail reported.

"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," Garduño said.

The alcoholic drink will mark a stark break from the Coca-Cola company's 130-year tradition of releasing soft drinks.


"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.

The move comes amid a difficult time for the soda industry. In 2016, soda consumption in the US fell to a 30-year low as people started turning to healthier alternatives.

At the beginning of 2018, Coca-Cola announced that it would sell smaller bottles at higher prices rather than tinker with its famous recipe in order to conform to the new sugar tax that comes into effect in April.

A foray into the Japanese alcopop market would appear to be providing Coca-Cola with an opportunity to further diversify its offerings and explore an avenue not wholly reliant on its soda drink foundation.

What is Chu-Hi?

As Garduño explains, Chu-Hi is a canned drink that contains alcohol: "Traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water, plus some flavouring."

It has a low alcohol content, usually between 3-8 per cent and the market is now saturated with hundreds of flavours that include everything from peach to salty grapefruit.

The demand for Chu-Hi drinks appears high with the market growth fluctuating everywhere between 5 and 25 per cent, according to the Financial Times.

Garduño explains the reasoning for Coca-Cola's alcoholic venture: "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."


Will alcoholic Coca-Cola be rolled out worldwide?

It doesn't look as if alcoholic Coca-Cola will be appearing on off-licence shelves worldwide any time soon. As Garduño explains, this is a "unique" and "modest experiment for a specific slice of our market".

"The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan. But I don't think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola."

He goes on to say that Japanese culture is very unique and so , "so many products that are born here will stay here".

New Coca-Cola drink types

Coca-Cola drinkers outside of Japan shouldn't despair, however. While we may not be getting boozy Cokes, the Coca-Cola company has recently been announcing new Coca-Cola and Diet Coke flavours.

The company has released two new Coca-Cola flavours: Georgia Peach and California Raspberry Coke. These are the first new Coca-Cola flavours to come out since 2002's Vanilla Coke.

The two new Coke drinks come just after Coca-Cola announced two new Diet Coke flavours - Feisty Cherry and Twisted Mango - as well as a whole revamp for the brand.

The full Diet Coke range will now include the original Diet Coke as well as Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, Zesty Blood Orange and Feisty Cherry flavours.

These will be rolled out in addition to the extant ranges such as Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Caffeine-free Coke and Coca-Cola Life.