Posted: 28/05/2021

Halloumi producers claim cheese’s new PDO status is “shot in the foot” for Cyprus

The PDO secured for Halloumi gives the cheese added protection against imitators but the new rules might also hamstring legitimate producers

Halloumi finally secured Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status last month after years of lobbying by the Cypriot government, but the news was greeted with dismay by producers who say it will severely limit the amount of cheese they can make.

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades hailed the decision by the European Commission to award PDO status to the cheese as “a milestone day for halloumi and our country”. 

But dairy groups claimed the country had shot itself in the foot with the new regulations, arguing there was not enough milk produced on the island to meet the specification that halloumi must be made with at least 51% goat and sheep’s milk.  

The Pan Cyprian Organisation of Cattle Breeders said there was a shortage of milk from goats and sheep, while huge quantities of the cows’ milk that was used in the past will now go unused. It also raised concerns that low-fat and flavoured halloumi are not covered by the PDO, which means they could be made outside Cyprus. 

The Cyprus Dairy Producers Association estimated that the shortage of goat and sheep’s milk could mean halloumi sales fall from €300m a year to €90m. 

“These losses will lead to the destruction of the entire dairy industry, livestock and agriculture at a huge cost to the local economy,” it said in a statement.

Around 40% of Cyprus’ halloumi production is exported to the UK. 

Following Brexit, the new PDO is not recognised under UK law and Cyprus would have to apply for protection under the new UK Geographical Indication scheme. However, the cheese is still protected by a trademark, which specifies it must be made in Cyprus.

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