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Citrus refers to the group of fruit which include the orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit and tangerine. Citrus fruits are notable for their fragrance, partly due to flavonoids and limonoids contained in the rind, and most are juice-laden. The juice contains a high quantity of citric acid giving them their characteristic sharp flavour. Many species are cultivated for their fruit, which is eaten fresh, pressed for juice, or preserved in jams, marmalades and pickles.
Citrus trees hybridise very readily. Thus all commercial citrus cultivation uses trees produced by grafting the desired fruiting cultivars onto rootstocks selected for disease resistance and hardiness.
Citrus is the largest category of fruit produced regionally with an estimated total of 595,789 metric tonnes in 2006 and represented 40% of total fruit production, which was dominated by Belize and Jamaica.
With regard to fruit imports into CARICOM in 2006, citrus came in fourth with 10%. And in the case of exports, citrus was the third main export commodity at 6%, preceded by banana and papaya. The main exporters were Belize and Jamaica.
In terms of growth, citrus production increased from 8.2m kg in 2005 to 8.9m kg in 2008 resulting in an increase of 8.9%.
The CARICOM Fresh and Processed Market Opportunity Study states that oranges dominate citrus production in the Caribbean, making up more than two thirds of all citrus produced. The crop is both sold whole and processed as juice in concentrated and single strength forms.
Production is concentrated in Belize and to lesser extent in:
Oranges are exported both as whole fruit and as juice. However, only about 5% of the CARICOM’s production is exported as whole fruit. In a few countries, a substantial proportion of the crop is processed and the value of regional juice exports significantly exceeds that of whole fruit exports by a factor of three or more.
Regional imports of orange juice are considerable, averaging 14,000 metric tonnes per annum. However, most of this is imported from within the region, which is therefore a net exporter of orange juice.
Grapefruit production, at approximately one-third of orange by volume, is distributed amongst a range of countries and export volumes are effectively concentrated in two countries. The Bahamas led in the export of whole fruit accounting for 92% of exports, while Belize accounts for 99% of all grapefruit and pomelo juice exports.
Why invest in citrus production?