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Metrology

Measuring the Color of Bacardi Mojitos

Spectrophotometry ensures that the color of each batch of this summer favorite is the same

Published: Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 11:02

Would you choose a beverage off the store shelf if the same brand sitting next to it was a different color? The Bacardi Bottling Corp. knows the answer is probably no, which is why the company incorporates strict color standards into its Bacardi Mojito production process.

Bacardi Mojito is a mix of premium rum, flavorings, and special natural ingredients. Since the color of these ingredients can vary, Bacardi bottlers need to continually adjust their recipe to maintain consistent flavor and appearance.

Natural ingredients can create an unnatural appearance

“We can’t just follow the exact same recipe for every batch of Bacardi Mojito that we mix because of the color variations of a few incoming ingredients,” says John Scussel, lab supervisor for the beverage plant. “Using natural ingredients can make the final product appearance notoriously difficult to control. A small change in lot-to-lot color of these can make quite a difference in our mojito, and our consumers demand consistency not only in taste, but also in the appearance of our products.”

 

Lack of color control is an expensive proposition. Imagine mixing a 10,000-gallon batch of mojito, only to find out it doesn’t meet Bacardi’s strict color tolerance.

Color-management expert X-Rite worked with Bacardi to put together a hardware and software solution that ensures quality and consistency of the Bacardi Mojito beverage.

A Color i7 benchtop spectrophotometer measures small batches to quantify liquid color. X-Rite engineers even custom-made holders so Bacardi could use its existing stock of specialized cells for transmission measurements in the Color i7.

After the measurement is taken, Color iQC software analyzes the data to calculate the right recipe for a full production batch. “The graphic representations are great,” says Scussel. “We build what we call the color box—a rectangle that gives you a graphic representation of the color specs. It’s easy to see, to understand, and to print out. You can put it in someone’s hands and show them why they are off—‘Oh, it’s a little too yellow.’”

Color consistency across multiple locations

Color iQC also allows Bacardi to record measurements, process parameters, job history, and other information, and easily share it with individuals both onsite and at other locations. Scussel says he is thinking about enabling other aspects of the Color iQC software that can help with predicting the color of products by inputting information about the ingredients of recipes—essentially performing virtual trials without mixing the formulas.

Bacardi is an international company, and each of the instruments must use the same standards when sharing results. X-Rite’s NetProfiler technology does that and more. “NetProfiler is absolutely the cat’s meow,” says Scussel. “It allows instruments in several locations to act as one instrument. I was concerned about how to keep our instruments calibrated until I learned that you can use NetProfiler to do a test onsite. And if the instruments still don’t calibrate properly, X-Rite has a strong support system for getting them fixed.”

Using proprietary software and certified physical standards, the system takes just minutes to produce performance NIST-traceable statistics on every instrument within a network, which allows plants to exchange spectral color data with confidence that they are using the same standards.

“X-Rite supports its software really well,” Scussel says. “It’s pretty obvious that they have talked with people who use color measurement instruments. The company does what its customers want, rather than what may be easier for its software engineers. And X-Rite has really good service and availability. If I pick up the phone, someone helps me.”

And if you pick up a bottle of rum this summer, you can be confident your mojitos will be the exact correct color.

First published on the X-Rite Pantone blog.

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X-Rite

X-Rite is the global leader in color science and technology. The company, which now includes color industry leader Pantone Inc., develops, manufactures, markets, and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards, and services. X-Rite’s expertise in inspiring, selecting, measuring, formulating, communicating, and matching color helps users get color right the first time and every time, which translates to better quality and reduced costs. X-Rite serves a range of industries, including printing, packaging, photography, graphic design, video, automotive, paints, plastics, textiles, dental, and medical.