The not-so-simple pleasure of orange juice

At Coca-Cola, there's no such thing as a simple glass of orange juice.

When you consider typical breakfast beverages, near the top is a nice chilled glass of orange juice. A simple pleasure.

Or is it?

Turns out there's way more going on in that carton of O.J. than you might be aware of.

Duane Stanford covers the beverage industry for Bloomberg and wrote most recently about how Coca-Cola gets all that Vitamin C goodness to the breakfast table.

He says the soft drink giant has been building its orange juice empire for the last few years. They've focused on O.J. in a carton instead of the frozen concentrate stuff you buy in a can, because it makes more money.

"One of the innovations that Coke has developed over recent years is to basically figure out how to predict Mother Nature -- and a lot of that involves collecting data points on everything from the acidity on orange juice to weather patterns," said Stanford.

He says they use a computer model to figure out how to blend their orange juice into a standardized flavor that O.J.-drinkers expect.

You likely drink orange juice all year round, but the growing season for oranges is only about three or four months. It's a battle against Mother Nature. Stanford says they store the orange juice up to eight8 months at a time in large vats. And yes, that means the last glass of orange juice you had was "at least blended in part from orange juice that could be up to eight months old."

You probably wouldn't have guessed that from marketing campaigns.

Despite all that high-tech planning to get the orange juice to your table, the oranges are still picked from the tree by hand.

Thirsty yet?

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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