Operations at Paramount Citrus Association’s new Cuties packinghouse in Delano, Calif., are running smoothly.
“We’re enjoying our first harvest year with the new facility, and are on target to produce the planned volume with this crop year’s harvest,” said Scott Owens, vice president of sales and marketing.
In a release to mark the plant’s Nov. 16 opening, Paramount president David Krause said Paramount and its partners expect to ship 90 million boxes of easy-peel mandarins this season.
Owens said the plant, at 640,000 square feet, is the world’s largest citrus packinghouse, and represents the largest single capital investment ever for Paramount’s parent company, Roll Global.
It’s designed to meet the increased acreage and demand for mandarin oranges, which he said is growing at double digit rates.
He said using precast concrete panels not only speeded up construction — which took two years — but with no ledges and voids the walls and ceiling are easy to clean, enhancing food safety.
The plant has the capacity to fill 800,000 3-pound bags of mandarins a day, while cold storage rooms can hold up to 31 million pounds of fruit.
Half the power for the new facility comes from a 2.7 megawatt rooftop solar plant, which is expected to generate 15% of the power required. A 1.6 megawatt fuel cell, which produces combustion-free electricity from natural gas, can provide 35% of the plant’s power needs.
Owens said Paramount is heavily involved in social media to promote Cuties mandarins. Consumers can engage with the brand on its website, www.cutieskids.com, or through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
“More than 216,000 Facebook fans have liked us, and we have more than 2,000 followers of the @CutiesCitrus Twitter handle,” he said.
As well as answer answering product questions, he said Paramount uses social media to reward loyal fans with promotions and opportunities to engage further with the brand.