Coca-Cola Co. to launch cola-coffee beverage next year

by Eric Schroeder
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PARIS — The Coca-Cola Co. on Wednesday said it would launch a new Coke product containing coffee extracts, which, in a break from traditions, would be aimed at adults and launched first in France.

The new product, to be called "Coca-Cola Blak," will hit shelves in France in January. The company said it will gear the product at young adults, rather than its core adolescent market.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has been battling with stagnating sales of its flagship Coke drink in developed countries as consumers switch to fruit and health drinks.

Coca-Cola said the new product is an "invigorating and stimulating blend that has a perfect balance of the effervescent taste sensation of Coca-Cola and natural flavors, with real coffee."

"Coca-Cola Blak is not just a flavor extension," said Marc Mathieu, vice-president of global core brands, Coca-Cola. "It is a blend of unique Coke refreshment with the true essence of coffee and has a rich smooth texture and has a coffee-like froth when poured. We believe we have created a new category of soft drink — an adult product in a carbonated beverage — and a whole new drinking experience. This brand is ideal for any part of the day when people are looking for renewed energy or simply to take a break."

Rumors about the launch, which will be supported by television, print, outdoor and in-store communication, already had circulated on the Internet and on financial markets, particularly after PepsiCo recently launched a Pepsi Max product with cappuccino flavoring.

It is the first time Coca-Cola has chosen to launch a product outside of the U.S., but a U.S. launch is scheduled for April.

In France, the drink will be distributed in restaurants, cafes and bars in aluminum cans with black and brown packaging. It is to contain about half the calories of a traditional can of Coca-Cola, about 20 calories per 100 ml.

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