The world of winemaking has two big philosophies: the old world wine (usually French), and the new world wine (California, South America, Australia, etc.). The former emphasizes the region of wine, while the latter highlights the grape variety. Aiming to achieve the consistent taste year after year, grapes of the new world wines are often sourced from different regions and blended appropriately. Basically, the same approach, but elevated to the next level, goes into production of orange juice by Coca Cola, as the recent Bloomberg Business Week article describes (hat tip to Jonathan Baird for sharing the link). The picture below pretty much explains it all.
There are some interesting aspects of the OJ production process that I think Coca Cola has borrowed from the Toyota production system. First, they emphasize working together with growers, so that oranges are grown to the exact specifications. Coke even instructs farmers when to pick oranges. And after that, juice from different batches is blended to achieve the right level of sweetness and acidity. All of that is done so that the taste of the juice is as consistent as possible.
Interestingly, while the approach works for a large bottler, like Coca Cola, it might also present an opportunity for smaller Old World style juice producers. Think Chateau de Miami OJ style. Maybe we’ll even see Coca Cola and the likes adopt regional juice varieties in the future.