HIGH prices charged for Coca-Cola canned in Hong Kong have created a lucrative but unsanctioned market in selling 'the real thing' imported from the US, Canada, Singapore and even Jordan in the Middle East. Coca-Cola China Holdings, the local arm of the multinational, is urgently investigating how Coca-Cola intended for other countries is coming into Hong Kong and eating into the profits of local agent Swire Bottlers. A survey of 20 noodle bars and small retailers in Quarry Bay found six selling imported Coca-Cola, all genuine products with the distinctive red can. Only close analysis of the packaging showed they were not bottled by Swire's massive plant in Sha Tin but had travelled as many as 9,600 kilometres. A taste test conducted by the South China Morning Post became a triumph for the local brew yesterday, as drinkers gave the nod to the Hong Kong-canned Coke in preference to imports. One retailer said genuine Hong Kong-bottled Coke was being offered at $77 for a carton of 24 cans. However Coke from Singapore is being offered at $72, and Canadian Coke at $62 and sometimes as low as $60, often by the same Coca-Cola agent. Coca-Cola in Hong Kong enjoys one of its highest market shares in the world. More than 90 per cent of the hundreds of millions of cans of cola drunk in the territory each year are Coca-Cola rather than Pepsi or other brands. And Swire Bottlers, which is also local bottler for Schweppes, enjoys more than 80 per cent of the total market for beverages. Swire referred all questions on the imports issue to Coca-Cola China. External affairs services manager for Coca-Cola China Holdings, Rebecca Jackson, said 'it is a matter which we take seriously'. '[But] We estimate the volume of imported Coca-Cola to be very small.'