An alliance between Spain’s Martinavarro and Rio Tinto has created Europe’s largest citrus group.

Martinvarro has strengthened its position as Europe’s biggest citrus company by joining forces with Huelva’s Río Tinto to establish Citri&Co.

The new group will own six packhouses and more than 8,000ha of production, giving it an annual output of 500,000 tonnes of citrus worth an estimated EUR325m (US$381.2m).

Castellón-based Martinavarro was founded by the Martinavarro, Dealbert and Ballester families in 1946 and is Europe’s leading citrus exporter handling 420,000 tonnes a year and with sales of more than EUR280m.

Martinavarro manages around 6,000ha and four packhouses in Castellón, Valencia and Huelva. It has subsidiaries in several countries including the Netherlands and the UK.

The Rio Tinto deal – the terms of which have not been announced –  follows last year’s acquisition by Miura Private Equity of a 25% stake in Martinavarro in order to fund its national and international expansion.

Citri&Co said: “While both Rio Tinto and Martinavarro will continue to be run independently, the formation of Citri&Co will allow clients from both companies to benefit from the group’s key strengths by providing a wider range of citrus products and ensuring security of supply managed under the Total Quality model.

“Citri&Co plans to enter into new markets and expand its product portfolio and continue working to diversify its supply from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere and to ensure a quality product offering to its customers throughout the year.”