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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Coca-Cola Japan

Being a fan of Coca-Cola and all things Japan, I wondered just how is the business run…

I don't mean the backdoor shenanigans (and who doesn't enjoy that?), but rather, what is the basic structure of the company?

I'm not even begin to pretend I know this stuff, so I actually took it from the Japanese Coca-Cola website.

The Coca-Cola system in Japan comprises Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd., which supplies concentrates, plans and develops new products, and conducts advertising and marketing activities; bottling companies(bottlers), which manufacture and sell products, and other affiliated companies.

In the Coca-Cola system, Coca-Cola Japan and other members of the system promote their business-related initiatives based on strong partnerships. We seek further business growth by optimizing our overall operations, including more efficient production, a thorough consumer oriented approach, faster response to market preferences, enhanced customer services, and rigorous quality control.

What is interesting, to me, is the graphic immediately atop this... showing the eight Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Japan and what area of Japan each is able to supply.

And... if you are a Coca-Cola connoisseur as I am, you are aware that Coke's produced in different countries and even different regions can have slightly differing tastes.

I am aware that the recipe is always exactly the same when a particular product is being made, for example, the standard, but iconic Coke beverage.

I think it's the quality of water being used that provides a different taste in Coke produced in say, Las Vegas relative to Chicago and Toronto.

Three distinct tastes.

My tongue is very adept.

That whole Pepsi-Coca-Cola challenge back in the 1970s or whatever was a complete joke to me. Do you know who can't tell the difference between the two? Someone who isn't a regular drinker of either brand. It was ridiculous.

So... since water is appropriated from at least eight different sources for the production of Coca-Cola products in Japan, one could assume that there will be slight taste variances in the same product in differing locations.

The only time I know for sure that Coca-Cola changed its recipe (well, okay back at the turn of the last century when it took cocaine out as an ingredient...

According to "Coca-Cola was named back in 1885 for its two "medicinal" ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. Just how much cocaine was originally in the formulation is hard to determine, but the drink undeniably contained some cocaine in its early days."

Have a coke and a smile, indeed. 

But in my lifetime, Coca-Cola made a huge blunder when it publicly announced it was going to alter its formula back in the 1980s, with the introduction of New Coke, which would replace "classic" Coke.

The plan failed, and without any pomp, Coca-Cola brought back the classic Coke beverage recipe... except to anyone who was a fan of the pre-New-Coke classic Coke.... this was still a changed recipe.

It was no longer as gassy.

With the pre-change, when you drank it you could belch and nearly bun out the hairs from your nose... but not after new Coke bit the dust... it was weaker in belchability, and slightly different in taste...

It still irks me, but not to the point of complaining, just to the point of memory recall.

I also think that the flavor of all drinks was changed when it went from being filled in an aluminum can versus a tin can. You can taste the difference from a plastic bottle to an aluminum can nowadays, or a draft beer versus a canned beer versus a bottled beer. It's subtle, but it's there.

Anyhow... when I traveled from Toronto, Canada to Japan... that first Coke I had in Tokyo was completely different from what I was used... the same with a Coke in Thailand, Malaysia, Saipan, Korea and Cambodia... 

I'm not exactly sure what the 'Real Thing' is, but it is all basically the same.

Or it might be all in my head... like my tongue.

Andrew Joseph

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