Cyprus wins back UK halloumi trademark

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Cyprus has won back the right to call halloumi cheese its own again after it successfully re-registered the UK trademark it had lost in 2018.

Cyprus had lost the trademark for its famous cheese over the 18 months ago after a blunder by Commerce Ministry officials, who failed to reply to a UK court requesting a response over the cancellation of the Halloumi trademark.

Commerce Minister George Lakkotrypis confirmed the good news, telling CyBC radio that Cyprus had reapplied to register the trademark which it lost in May 2018.

On January 31, it was notified that halloumi had been registered by the British Intellectual Property Office, the minister said.

Cyprus lost its biggest export market after a blunder by ministry officials failed to contest an application by a British company John & Pascalis.

The company, owned by UK Cypriots, is one of the largest halloumi importers in Great Britain.

“We corrected that serious mistake,” said Lakkotrypis.

He said the development effectively protects Cyprus’ halloumi exports to the UK as the Agriculture Ministry continues its efforts to register it as an EU product of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

Lakkotrypis said his Commerce Ministry had encountered a number of ‘legal difficulties’ along the way but cooperated with the attorney general’s office to overcome these obstacles.

The UK is the biggest market for the popular squeaky cheese, absorbing 40% of halloumi exports generating around €80 mln a year.

Cyprus producers expect to yield €300 mln in exports from halloumi by 2023.

A disciplinary investigation regarding the blunder in 2018 has been completed and the findings referred to the attorney general’s office.

President Nicos Anastasiades has called stakeholders to the Presidential Palace on Wednesday to discuss the future of halloumi and its PDO status.

According to Phileleftheros, the meeting will be attended by the Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce, the Republic’s legal experts, dairy producers, and animal breeders.

One of the issues to be discussed is the Ministry of Agriculture’s proposal to increase the quantity of goat and sheep milk used in the manufacturing of halloumi — so far 20% of halloumi has been made using goat and sheep milk, recent studies show it can be increased to 27%.

This relates to a PDO proposal requirement that stipulates that by 2024 the use of sheep and goat milk in the production of halloumi should exceed that of cow milk.

The milk ratio issue in Halloumi production has been a thorny one causing friction between the government and dairy producers.

Implementation of the PDO, as argued by dairy producers, will endanger exports as a large number of the white cheese’s by-products will no longer be eligible to be labelled as halloumi.

Cyprus’ PDO application for halloumi was first filed with Brussels back in 2014 but has been tangled in red tape.