Common front to propose halloumi PDO changes

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The Agriculture Ministry is in consultation with all stakeholders to propose a set of changes to the European Commission that will allow for some flexibility in the halloumi PDO file, including a transitionary period where variations of the cheese products may be placed together on store shelves.

The traditional halloumi secured the EU’s protected designation of origin (PDO) status last April and its production under that status commenced last October

Speaking in parliament, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said that one proposal is the coexistence of PDO-approved halloumi and trademarked halloumi, which some producers maintained prior to the registration of the product.

However, he said dairy producers face a number of problems regarding sufficient supply of sheep and goat milk to meet the quota and other PDO specifications, that will prevent them from selling overseas in large quantities, as the second most exported product of Cyprus.

Cyprus’ flagship halloumi export had its best year in 2020, but demand crumbled in 2021 with lockdowns imposed across Europe to combat the second wave of coronavirus crippling the hospitality sector. 2020 ended with halloumi generating a whopping €260 mln from exports of 40,000 tonnes, it’s best year to date.

Confuse consumers

Kadis stressed that they didn’t wish the coexistence on the same shelf of PDO-halloumi and trademark-halloumi that could confuse consumers. He clarified that the trademark halloumi includes products that cannot be included in the PDO, such as low-fat “halloumi light” and the spicy “halloumi chilli”.

He added that any solution should be legally valid, as the European Commission in other cases allowed the coexistence of a pre-existing trademark and PDO.

The minister also said he was in discussions with all stakeholders to forward to the European Commission changes in the halloumi file regarding milk quotas, the breeds of milk-producing animals, the moisture content, the shape and the weight of halloumi.

This, he said, will allow the mass production of halloumi as PDO.

The discussions with stakeholders also focus on the importance of registering halloumi as PDO, the withdrawal of all legal action against product registration, ensuring the sustainability of sheep and goat farmers, maintaining existing exports, agreement on the amendments that will be forwarded to Brussels and the strict implementation of the solution that will be agreed.