After visiting the Cuties groves in Maricopa, CA, I was able to go behind the scenes to find out how these little fruits go from the field to everywhere else. With my hairnet on and audio set tuned in to hear our tour guide, we set off for the Sun Pacific Farming plant floor.
Sun Pacific Cuties Plant Tour in Maricopa, CA
The facility was huge (about 1,200,000 sq. ft.) so we had to walk briskly through it to stay on schedule. I was most impressed by the massive sorting machine with some 40 “lanes” for the Cuties.
High tech systems sorted according to size, weight, color, and ripeness. Cuties that meet the grade go on for further inspection. Ones that aren’t up to par are either set aside to ripen more or are used for juice. Rotten pieces are sent on to be used as food for cows. It was so nice to hear that there is basically no waste of any of the fruit.
Using 6-9 weighers, Cuties are divided into 3- or 5-pound increments. Then it’s they’re off to be labeled, bagged, boxed, and shipped. Sun Pacific ships about 55 million cartons of Cuties a year and per week ship out 3 million boxes. With all the care put into choosing only the best fruit, it’s no wonder this is the best-selling clementine brand in the country.
Cuties in McDonald’s Happy Meals & Mighty Kids Meals
McDonald’s has dibs on the top quality Cuties. A dedicated lane allows workers to hand-pack the boxes and a sample is held from each lot to maintain superior standards. It generally takes two weeks or less from the time Cuties are harvested to when they arrive at McDonald’s restaurants.
All Cuties going to McDonald’s are labeled with the standard blue sticker instead of the colorful fun ones you’ll see elsewhere. Oh, and in case you have someone with a strict gluten allergy, you can order just Cuties (and pre-packaged apples) if needed.
So whether you’re enjoying your Cuties at home, on the go, at school, or anywhere else, just know they came from California with love 🙂