OJ Battle Brewing

Coca-Cola Co. is expected to announce today that it is launching a new, not-from-concentrate orange juice, hoping to steal some of the thunder from PepsiCo Inc.’s popular Tropicana Pure Premium brand by offering a beverage that Coke claims tastes even more like fresh-squeezed than does its rival, Thursday’s Wall Street Journal reported.

Simply Orange Juice Co., a new, wholly owned subsidiary of Coke’s Minute Maid Co. unit, will start off by marketing its juice in the Northeast, which consumes a third of the nation’s orange juice, according to Simply Orange’s marketing manager, Bobby Patton.

The new juice won’t replace Coke’s Minute Maid brand, the leading orange juice from concentrate. Instead, it is meant to give Coke (KO) a juice that can take on chilled-juice leader Tropicana, whose not-from-concentrate premium juice is the No. 3 selling consumer brand in supermarkets.

Mr. Patton said the small company’s aim is to distinguish itself on taste. Carefully selected oranges and the clear plastic carafes in which the juice is packaged keep the juice fresher longer, meaning “it tastes more like fresh-squeezed than what’s in the market today,” he says.

Yet Simply Orange, based in Apopka, Fla., says it harbors no illusions that it will be able to unseat Tropicana as market leader. Tropicana has about a 39% revenue share of the chilled orange-juice market, compared with about 21% for Minute Maid’s premium orange juice, according to Minute Maid.

The juice comes in three varieties: original, calcium-fortified and “grove made,” with extra pulp. Ray Crockett, a Minute Maid spokesman, said Simply Orange will be priced comparably to competing premium orange-juice brands.

Mr. Crockett added that Simply Orange will join other Minute Maid products in a proposed new company to be jointly owned by Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati. The plan for the new company is subject to various regulatory approvals and is likely months away from completion, he said.

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