No more halloumi wars

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A ceasefire between Halloumi producers and the government comes into effect on Thursday, as an agreement over what makes the cheese special comes into effect.

The news comes after dairy producers and officials met on Monday to ratify an agreement reached at the end of July, putting a temporary end to a dispute over Haloumi’s Product of Origin file approved by the EU.

It foresees that the thorny issue of the ratio of cow to goat and sheep milk will be resolved, with the Agriculture Ministry conceding to dairy producers’ demands to postpone the implementation of the milk ratio as in the original PDO file until 2024.

After an initial transitional period up to 2024, products may be labelled “halloumi” if they contain at least 10% goat and sheep milk during the ‘low’ season and 25% during the high season.

The low season is determined as the months from February to August when the production of goat and sheep milk is at its lowest.

For the rest of the year, the ratio is set at a minimum of 25% goat and sheep milk.

Based on the deal, the ratio is to be increased by 5% on top of 25% every year until the 50% level is reached in 2029.

Several changes will be made to the PDO file, including the shape and size of the squeaky cheese.

Authorities have made concessions on the format and packaging for halloumi, allowing producers to diverge from the requirements stipulated in the original PDO file, according to which halloumi can only be sold in folded blocks of 300 gr.

Producers will also be allowed to increase the cheese’s moisture from 46% to 52%.

Sliced halloumi (halloumi fries), large blocks of cheese and burger-shaped halloumi will also be considered PDO halloumi.

The Dairy Producers Association told the Financial Mirror that the Halloumi wars are over until 2024.

“Come 2024, stakeholders will have to evaluate the availability of goat and sheep milk in the market and decide whether to go ahead with the road map until 2029 or renegotiate the ratio,” said a source.

Cheesemakers welcome the development, pledging increases to producers and buying all produced quantities of sheep’s and cow’s milk at a significantly increased price.

Farmers are also reportedly satisfied, as sheep breeders will be compensated with a minimum of €1.35 (up to 1.45) per litre, up from €1.05 – €1.20.

Goat breeders will be compensated €0.80 to €0.90 for every litre of milk.

The agreement with authorities foresees that all cheesemakers producing halloumi will join the PDO register, with the Bureau Veritas international certifying checks at production sites from next week.