Sun Pacific is following up its acquisition of the Cuties brand from Paramount Citrus with a June 11 meeting aimed at bringing new growers and packers into its clementine and mandarin program.

The meeting and luncheon is set for noon to 2 p.m. at the Visalia Convention Center, Visalia, Calif. Chief executive officer Berne Evans is the scheduled main speaker. More information is available at 661-858-5152.

“With the separation of Paramount and Sun Pacific, we’ll have essentially half the volume we had before,” said Al Bates, Sun Pacific general manager. “There’s a lot of fruit out there that we have not aggressively pursued in the past because we’ve had pretty large growers representing most of our program. We’re now on a push to recruit additional high quality growers to pack in the Cuties program.”

“There are two problems you can have,” Bates said. “One is having more fruit than customers, and the other is having more demand than fruit. We’re on the tail end of that and that’s part of the push.”

Sun Pacific sees the easy-to-peel citrus category continuing to grow, Bates said, and has committed its own acreage to that. “In the next four or five years we’ll have a lot more of our own volume coming into production, so that will help,” he said.

“With Paramount and Fowler Packing going off to do their own thing, the industry’s becoming more fragmented,” he said. “A lot of growers out there – some in traditional citrus, others who are investors, nut or tree fruit growers — are now planting mandarins. It’s a good time to meet with them and let them know what the recent history and outlook is.”

Paramount Citrus president David Krause said his company is recruiting additional third-party growers to supplement its 14,000 acres of California mandarins. Paramount and Fowler Packing are marketing a new brand, Wonderful Halos. The two grower-shippers have 65% of the California mandarin crop between them, Krause said.