It is estimated that history of citrus fruits goes back to 20 million years ago in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia.
Growing from the tip of their white flowers, these yellow and orange coloured, and juice dripping fruits spread from Asia to Europe and then to Africa. Although orange was first introduced in Florida by the Spanish as a Spanish fruit, some wild varieties of orange were encountered in some regions of America where red Indians lived.
With a global production of nearly 46 million tons, orange has the highest commercial value among the other citrus fruits. Mandarin with 29 tons, lemon with 7 million tons and grapefruit with 6 million tons of production follow Orange. Out of total global citrus production of 88 million tons, China with 32 million tons followed by the European Union with 11 million and the United States with 8 million tons of production, are the world largest producers. Other large citrus producing countries are Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Argentina and Morocco.
Although the biggest buyers of citrus are developed countries such as the European Union, the United States, Russia and Canada, citrus fruits are sought after fruits in all countries around the world. European countries are good producers as well as being good consumers. There is a great demand for citrus fruits among Russians, who are conscious consumers in terms of healthy diets.
Essential oils of these orange and yellow fruits are widely used for making perfume, deodorant and crème. Their primary market is fruit juice industry creating a huge economic value.
About a third of citrus fruit production goes for industrial processing and more than 80% of this is for orange juice production. According to FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organisation) data, global orange juice production is 1.6 million litres annually, and the largest orange producer is Brazil with a production of 900 thousand litres. The largest importers of orange juice are the European Union, the United States, Canada, Russia, China and South Africa, respectively.
Orange juice is commonly marketed as frozen concentrated juice; therefore, the cold storage and transportation costs are fairly low.
Citrus is very popular for its yellow-orange color, fleshy fruits with juice sacs, distinctive flavour and along with being packed with vitamin C, citrus fruits contain 3% of oil.
So, citrus is not limited to vitamin C. They are also rich source of vitamin A, fibre, organic acids, potassium, calcium, sugar and magnesium. Scientific research shows that all this rich content has many health benefits such as preventing cancer, purifying the blood, improving liver function and beautifying the skin. Scientists point out that human body does not produce vitamin C, and the daily vitamin C need varies between 50 and 70 mg. According to this, one medium orange a day will satisfy the daily requirement of vitamin C. Harvested citrus fruit should be carried to cold storage quickly after harvest and taken to pre-cooling process. Each of commercial citrus products has different storing values.
A relative humidity of 85–90% is required for citrus fruits for storage. While tangerine is stored at 3°C — 4°C (37.40–39.20°F) for 3–4 months, orange is stored at 4°C to 6°C(39.20–42.80°F) for 5–6 months, grapefruit at 8°C to 10°C (46.80–50.00°F) for 5–7 months and lemon at 10°C to 12°C for 7–9 months in normal atmosphere storage.
Although Atmosphere Controlled systems are not as effective in citrus fruits as in fruits like apple and pear, they provide more than a month of extra storing duration.
There is an increasing demand for a healthy diet in our planet with a fast-growing population.