You’d think with a name like “Simple Orange” that a product would be natural, healthy, and well, simple. Coca-Cola’s Simple Orange is anything but simple.
In fact, Bloomberg Business week is calling it a “hyper-engineered and dauntingly industrial product.” While the name implies that the product is nothing but orange juice, it is actually created by a process called The Black Book. That doesn’t sound simple at all…
Juice production is a process that is full of variables including, most importantly, a very short 3 month growing season. This is why the Black Book method is used, to create a consistent juice product throughout the year. Basically, Black Book is an algorithm that includes consumer data combined with the 600 flavors of an orange. This data is used to create a profile for acidity, sweetness, etc. so that they can magically blend orange juices together to make a consistent product. Black Book also contains weather patterns, crop yields, and cost pressures. Way far from simple…
What about the juice itself? That starts when Coca-Cola’s Brazilian partner, Cutrale, processes the oranges that are grown to a certain specification based on type, acidity, and sweetness. Satellite imagery is used to tell when to pick the oranges, all fueled by Black Book data. The fresh squeezed juice is then stored in Cutrales’s silos, and transported to a Coca-Cola packaging plant via 1.2 mile underground pipeline. Once in the Coca-Cola plant, the juice is flash pasteurized and stored in a process where all of the oxygen is removed to prevent spoiling. The final step is a blanket of nitrogen gas. Again, nothing about this is simple…
Batches of oxygen-free, nitrogen-blanketed juice are then separated, again based on sweetness, acidity, and type. Technicians use the Black Book data to mix the juices along with natural flavors and fragrances that get lost in the squeezing/sorting/mixing process. Allissa Hamilton, the Author of “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice explains: “When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature.”
So, if you want a truly SIMPLE orange juice, your best bet is to actually just juice it yourself.
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