Citrus industry in Uruguay accounts for approximately 2% of the Gross Value of Agricultural Production, generating foreign exchange earnings of about 80 million dollars. Therefore, citrus has become one of the main nontraditional exports after rice and dairy products.
Citrus industry in our country has established an exportable chain with a solid vertical integration process (Production-Industry-Commercialization). Approximately 315,000 tons of citrus fruit are produced annually, half of which is exported to fresh fruit markets (off-season sale) and the other is diverted to local consumption and industrialization (juices, concentrates, pectins and animal feed pellets).
Citrus area covers 17,000 ha, with over 7 million plants, being 70% of them under production. Planted area regarding to citrus specie is distributed as follows: oranges 46%, mandarins 42%, lemons 10% and grapefruits 2%.
There are two main citrus areas in Uruguay; the northern area (north of Río Negro, Paysandú and Salto provinces) covering about 84% of the overall citrus area and concentrating mostly oranges and tangerines specie, and the southern area involving the deparments of San José, Canelones,
Montevideo, Colonia, Maldonado, Florida and Soriano, where lemon is the main grown specie.
Noteworthy is that citrus industry in Uruguay is a high labor-intensive production sector with 19,000 people working throughout the whole process.
Significant technological issues (i.e. new variety, use of fertigation systems, changes in the packaging process, fruit traceability, certification and business management) challenge this industry to continue being one of the most important exportable chains for fresh fruit market in the country.