ORLANDO, Fla. — Paramount Citrus plans to complete a new production plant for Cuties-brand California clementines and mandarins in 2011.

The Los Angeles company announced the expansion Oct. 16 at PMA’s Fresh Summit.

The 600,000-square-foot facility in Delano, Calif., is projected to be completed in Sept. 2012, said David Krause, president of Los Angeles, Calif.-based Paramount Citrus.

“We’ve got quite a bit of acreage in the ground that’s not fully producing, so this plant will handle some of that extra volume that is coming online,” Krause said.

California’s mandarin season typically runs from November through April, Krause said.

Paramount said U.S. retail sales of mandarins, with the help of the Cuties label, have grown 28% in the past three years.

Paramount Citrus also plans to air its first consumer television advertising campaign starting in February. The TV spots feature the firm’s L’il Zipper signature character.

The $2 million buy for television advertising is focused on moms and will run through April in Chicago, Atlanta and Phoenix, according to a news release. The television spots target early morning news and prime time shows, in addition to female-focused talk shows, according to the release. An outdoor billboard campaign will complement the television spots in the respective cities.

Krause said the California Cuties brand is growing in consumer awareness every year.

“It is exceeding our expectations in consumer recall,” he said.

The television ads in targeted markets supplement the company’s work to promote the brand through print advertising, sponsorship of youth soccer, social media investment and other efforts, according to the release.

Krause said Paramount continues to increase its imports of Mexican lemons and has planted the first persian limes trees in Mexico.

“We’ll be in the lime business in a couple of years and we’re excited about that,” he said.

(Note on correction: This story originally had the wrong name for the Cuties signature character; the correct reference is L’il Zipper .)

Paramount Citrus building facility for Cuties clementines