CYPRUS: TC dairy producers worried about unsustainable halloumi exports

3 mins read

Turkish Cypriot dairy producers may have seen their halloumi/hellim exports take off in 2018 and the first five months of this year, but they fear they are in for hard times as exports to Turkey dropped significantly and costs have risen as the livestock population continues to decrease.

Halloumi exports from the island’s north, through Turkey, have increased from USD 26 mln in 2017 to 32 mln in 2018, while exports for the first five months of the current year have already reached USD 16.8 mln.

However, a drop in exports to Turkey combined with the increase in cost of milk production are worrying Turkish Cypriot dairy producers, concerned over the future of halloumi production and exports.

According to Turkish Cypriot Commerce Department data, exports to Turkey, which once were top of the list, have been overtaken by halloumi exports to Kuwait.

Turkish Cypriot newspaper YeniDuzen quoted dairy producer and head of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry (KTSO) Candan Avunduk as saying that halloumi exports to Turkey dropped from USD 16 mln in 2017, to USD 10 mln in 2018. He said that “this is a result of high production cost and the deterioration of people’s purchasing power in Turkey”.

He also noted that halloumi is being produced in Turkey within the framework of “representative agreement” signed between Turkish Cypriots and Turkey.

Avunduk noted that exports have taken off due to the increase of exports to Arab countries such as Bahrain, however, the chamber does not feel confident that Turkish Cypriot producers will be able to keep up with demand.

“Despite the increase recorded in 2018 and the first months of 2019, there will be a drop in exports for the whole of 2019. Exports to both Turkey and the Arab countries are to drop. This has to do with a rapid drop in milk production (in the north), the slaying of animals to cover the demand for meat, which is ever increasing,” said Avunduk.

Turkish Cypriot stock breeders have been complaining over recent years that they are not able to make a livelihood and are abandoning the industry. Meanwhile, an increasing number of raw meat is reportedly being smuggled into the north from the areas under the control of the Cyprus Republic.

With just over USD 10 mln worth of exports, Kuwait tops the list of Turkish Cypriot halloumi buyers, followed by Turkey with just under USD 10 mln, Saudi Arabia with USD 5 mln and the UAE.

Turkish Cypriot dairy producers also export a minor quantity of halloumi to Japan, according to YeniDuzen.