Coca Cola wasn’t ready to talk in detail about its orange juice business in 2009. But Bloomberg’s Duane Stanford, who noted the topic during an investor meeting, kept asking. Last year, when the company broached the topic again at a conference, he pushed for the story again and it paid off with an exclusive.
Duane gained access to Coca Cola’s Minute Maid and Simply Orange operations and the algorithm known as the “Black Book” that dictates production.
“I was able to see the entire process from the grove to the bottle,” Duane says.
Seeing the operations helped him understand the science behind the company’s methods – details he says he couldn’t have gotten in an interview. His story details the satellite imaging used to monitor crops, pipelines that eliminate tanker truck trips and the blending process for “the weekly recipe.”
“The amount of time to have someone explain everything I saw would be impractical,” he says.
Like most of us, writing short was the biggest challenge, he says. His story started at about 3,000 words and ended at about half that. “Determining the right length is important,” Duane says. “You have to boil a lot of information down and still make the story honest and fair.”