Coca-Cola launches sugar-free tea drink Taiyo no Matecha in Japan

TOKYO , March 19, 2012 (press release) – The Coca-Cola system in Japan, led by Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd. and 12 bottling partners nationwide, held the 2012 Coca-Cola System Business Strategy Briefing on March 13, 2012 at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo (in Chuo-ku, Tokyo). Coca-Cola (Japan) Company, Ltd. Representative Director & President Daniel H. Sayre reflected on business during 2011, and explained the business initiatives of the current year.

The Coca-Cola system's 2011 business results surpassed the positive results of the past year, recording a second consecutive year of record sales volume. The system expanded market share in its vending machine and convenience store sales channels. The convenience store segment, in particular, posted its 9th consecutive quarter of growth.

This performance has been enthusiastically received by Coca-Cola companies worldwide as well. Companies from around the world compete for the Woodruff Cup, and last month Japan was announced as the 2011 Woodruff Cup winner. It was selected based not only on its continuous business track record, but on how the individual business units which made it to the last round embodied the Coca-Cola value system within their communities.

The Coca-Cola system considers innovation and market development execution strength to be important factors in further business expansion, and Coca-Cola Japan's vice president and corporate strategy general manager Chieko Aoki and Coca-Cola West's representative director and president Tamio Yoshimatsu explained the initiatives of their respective organizations.

Two products were introduced as examples of innovation last year. The Ayataka green tea product succeeded at conveying through comparative advertising its position as the closest product to hand-brewed tea, with its distinct cloudiness. It secured its position in convenience stores, recording a growth of 70% over the previous year. It has the third highest market share nationwide, and in several markets in western Japan has taken the 1st and 2nd market share positions. I LOHAS, which has continued to produce innovations such as packaging weight reductions, PlantBottle design, and SCM innovation, and which is contributing to profitability improvements, will launch a new apple flavor to go alongside its satsuma mandarin flavor in order to achieve further growth. "burn", "Taiyo no Matecha", and "Schweppes" were then introduced as this year's new products.

On March 12, 2012, Coca-Cola Japan launched "burn Energy Drink" and "burn Energy Boost", products in the "burn" creative energy drink. The burn brand was first launched in Japan, and is now enjoyed in 85 countries and regions around the globe. In the non-sugar tea category, a growing segment of the beverage market, "Taiyo no Matecha" will be launched nationwide on March 19, 2012, in order to further expand market share, creating a new category. Schweppes, launched over 220 years ago in England, will be reborn as a product in the growing non-alcoholic market, developed not as an imitation of an alcoholic product, but as a product which reflects the tastes and sensibilities of adults, delicious whether drunk on its own or mixed with alcohol. The first product in this relaunch will be the new lemon tonic flavor, to be launched in June, before the London Olympics.

"Georgia," a core brand whose convenience store and vending machine share has been steadily growing since the latter half of last year, will have its packaging unified under the Emerald Mountain Blend (EMB) banner, with a greater presence at sales points in conjunction with other EMB sub-brands.

The briefing also discussed sales channel enhancements. It introduced the well-received "Coca-Cola Freestyle" dispenser, which has not only contributed to beverage sales volume since its launch last year, but has also contributed to overall store sales. Daniel H. Sayre discussed the vending machine channel, which has implemented various social responsibility initiatives such as energy-saving measures, and introduced vending machine channel initiatives such as a promotion using QR codes which has been successful in strengthening bonds between consumers. He also emphasized that the foundation on which each channel rests is OBPPC (using appropriate packing for each brand based on drinking occasions, and selling them at appropriate prices, within each individual channel). He also discussed continuing measures to overhaul supply chains.

In the latter half of the briefing a panel discussion was held with the theme of what corporate activities to carry out in the post-earthquake Japanese society and market, related to the 2020 Vision for maintaining continuous Coca-Cola system growth. Freelance announcer Hiroshi Ikushima acted as the moderator of this panel discussion, which included Takejiro Sueyoshi, special United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative advisor, Kumi Fujisawa, assistant director to the SophiaBank think tank, Chugen Kakuno, Chairman of Hokkaido Coca-Cola Bottling, and Motoyoshi Shiina, Chairman of Mikuni Coca-Cola Bottling.

A video message from Naoki Inose, vice-governor of Tokyo, introduced and praised the Coca-Cola system's proactive approach to vending machine energy consumption reductions after the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as the agreement the system entered to prioritize supply of mineral water to certified nursery schools in Tokyo after the disaster. Each panelist gave recommendations to Coca-Cola, and shared their hopes. Hokkaido Coca-Cola Bottling's Chugen Kakuno announced that in Hokkaido, all disaster relief agreements with local governments would be concluded, and stated that Hokkaido Coca-Cola Bottling would continue to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society, while growing sustainable business.

Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd. is based in Tokyo and its Representative Director & President is Daniel H. Sayre.

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