Pectin-rich biomasses, such as citrus peel and sugar beet pulp, hold promise as inexpensive feedstocks for microbial fermentations as enzymatic hydrolysis of their component polysaccharides can be accomplished inexpensively to yield high concentrations of fermentable sugars and D-galacturonic acid (D-galUA). In this study, we tackle a number of challenges associated with engineering a microbial strain to convert pectin-rich hydrolysates into commodity and specialty chemicals. First, we engineer D-galUA utilization into yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Second, we identify that the mechanism of D-galUA uptake into yeast is mediated by hexose transporters and that consumption of D-galUA is inhibited by D-glucose. Third, we enable co-utilization of D-galUA and D-glucose by identifying and expressing a heterologous transporter, GatA, from Aspergillus niger. Last, we demonstrate the use of this transporter for production of the platform chemical, meso-galactaric acid, directly from industrial Navel orange peel waste.