The new world approach to orange juice

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.

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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.

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2 thoughts on “The new world approach to orange juice

  1. I think this is so interesting! Last year, in my psychology class, I read a study about Orange Juice and its coloring [link below]. A study was done on the color of orange juice and consumer perception. Many people envision the ideal color for orange juice and if it is not the right color, people perceive it as spoiled or not tasty. I think it is interesting that Coke actually has a specific formula for their orange juice in order to ensure it tastes right and is the correct color. This isn’t something you would normally think would happen. Most people expect their orange juice to be squeezed from oranges, in some cases have preservatives added and then be shipped to consumers. It was very rewarding to see this being applied in a “real world” situation.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950329311001261

  2. I agree with Melanie that this article is very interesting. Consumers always have some sort of an idea about what their food should look like – which ends up actually causing it to be unnatural.

    In this process, I wonder how much each step actually changes the outcome of the orange juice. I wonder if consumers do taste the difference in the slight process variations that the article states happen constantly. I also find it interesting that 95% of the oranges are hand picked, according to the article. I am curious as to whether or not the smaller companies suggested above would actually have the resources to create such a process and have control over it.

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