After 130 years of steering clear from alcohol, Coca-Cola now plans to launch alcoholic drink

The drink will have alcoholic content of between 3% and 8%.

The company is planning to produce an alcoholic drink for the first time in the company’s history – with an alcopop-style product in Japan.

Chu-Hi, a canned sparkling flavoured drink given a kick with a local spirit called shochu, resulting in a product with alcoholic content of between 3% and 8% is huge in Japan and Coca-Cola is keen to exploit it.

A senior Coke executive in Japan said the move was a “modest experiment for a specific slice of our market”.

“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,” said Jorge Garduno, Coca-Cola’s Japan president.

Chu-Hi – an abbreviation for shochu highball – has been marketed as an alternative to beer, proving especially popular with female drinkers.

Mr. Garduno said it was unlikely the drink would be sold outside of Japan however should the dabble proof successful it may just force the century old company to re-evaluate its strategy on other markets.

As younger consumers become more health conscious, Coca-Cola has been diversifying from fizzy drinks, including buying water and tea brands.

Last November, Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog speculated that Coca-Cola might move into alcohol, as it looked to “premium segments such as adult craft beverages”.

The phrase alcopop typically refers to sweet but alcoholic drinks, and in 1990s UK brands such as Hooch, Reef, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer became hugely popular.

But they were controversial, raising concerns that they encouraged young people to drink alcohol in large quantities because they were so easy to consume.

Japan’s big drinks firms including Kirin, Suntory and Asahi all have varieties of the drink, and continue to experiment with hundreds of flavours.

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