“That cold glass of 100 percent liquid sunshine on the breakfast table is the product of a sophisticated industrial juice complex,” writes Duane D. Stanford in Bloomberg Businesweek (2/4/13). Coca-Cola, makers of the Minute Maid orange-juice brand, “has perfected a top-secret methodology it calls Black Book to make sure consumers have consistent orange juice 12 months a year, even though the peak growing season lasts about three months.” The formula is actually an algorithm that “requires analyzing up to 1 quintillion decision variables to consistently deliver the optimal blend.”
Coke’s Black Book “includes detailed data about the myriad flavors — more than 600 in all — that make up an orange, and consumer preferences. Those data are matched to a profile detailing acidity, sweetness, and other attributes of each batch of raw juice. The algorithm then tells Coke how to blend batches to replicate a certain taste and consistency, right down to pulp content. Another part of black Book incorporates external factors such as weather patterns, expected crop yields and cost pressures.”
The algorithm is so sophisticated that Coke can “replan the business in five or 10 minutes,” should a hurricane, freeze or other natural catastrophe occur. Minute Maid was founded during World War II “by pharmaceutical engineer Jack Fox, an expert at concentrating blood serum.” Coke bought the company in 1960, and today “Coke gets about $13 billion in revenue annually from pure juice and juice drinks.” Pepsi’s Topicana is the market-share leader in the $4.6 billion US category, with a 40 percent share, versus Coke’s 28 percent.