Citrus Uses

– Processed citrus products
– Citrus by-products
– Other uses

Citrus fruits are consumed as fresh fruit or utilized for the obtention of processed citrus products and citrus by-products. Approximately one third of total citrus production is utilized for processing. This proportion is higher in the case of oranges as more than 40% of globally produced oranges are utilized for processing. In addition, oranges utilization for processing accounts for more than 80% of total citrus utilization for processing. The proportion of grapefruit utilization for processing is similar to that of orange. In contrast, nearly all small citrus fruits of the tangerine type are intended for consumption in the fresh market. Lemons and limes are somehow different since they are normally consumed in association with other food products. They are grown mainly for the fresh market and their juice is used primarily as a flavoring in beverages.

The varieties of oranges that are grown depend on the purpose of the fruit. Among the most well known are the Navel variety for fresh fruit consumption and Valencia variety for the obtention of orange juice. Oranges that do not meet the quality levels, for consumption as fresh fruits or for processing, are diverted and, together with the pulp and peels obtained from processed oranges, used for the obtention of by-products.

Processed citrus products

By and large, the most important processed citrus fruits product is orange juice. It is measured in brix degrees value, which is a measure of concentration of solids and of the sugar/acid ratio

(See Citrus Reference Book, Conversions and Equivalents and Basic Metric Conversions, Florida Citrus Mutual, for the different measures).

Orange juice can be presented in different forms. The major types of orange juice are the following:

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

The juice is squeezed from fresh fruit and packaged in paper cartons, glass or plastic containers, without being pasteurized. The product is clearly labeled and located in the produce or dairy section of the grocery store, with a shelf life of only a few days. It is also typically made at home. Traditionally, an important proportion of European orange juice consumers has preferred to freshly squeeze oranges at home.

Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ)

Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ) is the most widely traded as a commodity in the international market, normally at 65º Brix. FCOJ is obtained by removing, through evaporation, the water from the orange juice of fresh, ripe oranges that have been graded, sorted, washed and squeezed in extraction machines. It is then stored at 20ºF or lower until it is sold or packaged for sale. FCOJ is seven-to-one strength ratio to normal single-strength orange juice.

Consumers reconstitute the FCOJ at home by adding water to the concentrate. At one time this used to be the dominant type of orange juice sold in the United States. However, due to increasing consumer preference for more convenient ready-to-drink orange juice, FCOJ has lost its supremacy.

FCOJ can be stored for several years at the adequate temperature.

The process of obtention of FCOJ is illustrated in the following chart: 

Source: Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice From Florida Oranges, Richard F. Matthews, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, April 1994.
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Not-From-Concentrate Orange Juice (NFC)

NFC orange juice is processed and pasteurized by flash heating immediately after squeezing the fruit, without removing the water content from the juice. NFC is never concentrated. Transportation costs are therefore higher since, in order to ship an equivalent volume of NFC compared to FCOJ, six time the volume must be shipped. NFC can be stored freezed or chilled for at least a year.

Demand for NFC has been steadily increasing in North America and in Europe since the nineties. NFC is perceived as the closest match to freshly squeezed juice in flavor, offering a convenient ready-to serve package that is easier to use than frozen orange juice. The quality of NFC is considered to be higher than that of other types of orange juice.

See: European Markets for NFC: Supply and Demand Issues, Feb. 2001. IW01-2, International Working Paper Series.

Refrigerated Orange Juice from Concentrate (RECON)

RECON is a juice that has been processed to obtain the frozen concentrate and then reconstituted by adding back the water that had been originally removed. Reconstituted single strength juice is normally reconditioned by the packager or the beverage industry and sold as a ready-to-serve product either in chilled form or in aseptic form sold in bottles or cartons without the need of refrigeration.

Additional information on orange juice can be found in:
Glossary of Juicy Terms, Florida Department of Citrus
The Orange Juice Production Process and Product Forms, Ultimate Citrus
Orange and Other Citrus Juices, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. EDIS
Competitive Behavior in Orange Juice Markets, Binkley, J. et al, Economic Research Service, USDA, Fruit and Tree Nuts, September 2001.

In addition, citrus fruits can be processed to obtain other food products, such as dehydrated citrus products or marmalade and jams.

Citrus by-products

Citrus essential oils

Essential oils are volatile oils obtained from the citrus fruits peel´s sacks. They are used by the food industry to give flavor to drinks and foods. They are also a component for the pharmaceutical industry for the preparation of medicines and soaps, perfumes and other cosmetics, as well as for home cleaning products.

For example, see Citrus and Allied Essences or Citrus Magic.


D-Limonene is a major component of the oil extracted from lemon and orange rinds or solids. It is considered as one of the purest sources of monocyclic terpene. It is used for industrial solvents and as an element for the synthesis of other chemical materials. It is also used as a flavor and aromatic component. See: d-Limonene: The Safe Citrus Solvent, Florida Chemical

Citrus pulp pellets

Citrus pulp pellets are the result of the conversion of peels and pulps that have been left behind once the juice has been extracted. They are used for animal breeding.