Halloumi generating export gold

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Halloumi cheese is considered Cyprus’ white gold worth €1.34 bln in exports from 2017-2021, with revenue expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.

According to the Ministry of Commerce data, Cyprus dairy producers in the first nine months of 2022 exported 32,000 tonnes of halloumi worth €227 mln.

An increase of 23% compared to 2020 was the best year for squeaky cheese exports.

Halloumi has traditionally been among the island’s top export products, along with citrus fruits, cement, potatoes, and pharmaceuticals, with a 16.8% share.

From 2017 to 2021, total halloumi exports amounted to €1.34 bn.

The best year was 2020, with 39,547 tonnes worth €266.4 mln, followed by 2021, with exports of 38,717 tonnes worth €262.2 mln.

2019 saw exports of 33,743 tons worth €224.3 mln.

Based on the available data, halloumi exports have quadrupled in the last decade (from 2012 to 2021), while from 2016 to 2021, they have increased by over 30%.

A study by Cyprus-based marketing specialists ImarComms spotted an increasing trend for purchasing halloumi globally, with projected annual sales reaching $1 billion in the next five years.

Specifically, ImarComms estimates that Halloumi exports will hit $841.6 mln by 2026 and $998.1 mln by 2028.

According to Commerce Ministry data, the UK is the island’s biggest client, as, in the first nine months of 2022, €122.7 mln worth of halloumi went to British markets.

Sweden is the second largest customer of Cyprus’ traditional cheese with €24.1 mln worth of exports, followed by Germany with €16.3 mln, Poland with €8.5 mln, Australia with €6.3 mln, Greece with €7.5 mln and the USA with €6.8 mln.

Some 68.8% of Halloumi exports find their way to shoppers, while the remaining 31.2% is sold to restaurants and other catering businesses.

In comments to Kathimerini Cyprus, Commerce Ministry official Panayiota Patsali said that authorities have drawn up a road map to boost Halloumi exports.

Patsali said stakeholders would follow a case-by-case approach for each market.

“At the moment, the US market is a priority due to the great recognition the product is enjoying in the states”.

She noted that based on research data, the recognition of halloumi in the US has grown from 2015 to 2020 by 150%, with sales value climbing from $4.26 mln in 2015 to $10.22 mln in 2020.

“The estimate for the next few years is to continue the upward trend reaching $26.01 mln in 2026 or 150% increase in sales value in the next five years.”

Australia is also a growing market based on an IMarComms survey, as Halloumi sales increased from $10.63 mln in 2015 to $19.51 mln in 20220.

Estimates say that exports to Australia could reach $40 mln by 2026.

The Middle East also shows good prospects, with sales worth $13.1 mln in 2020 and consumption of 1,556 tonnes of halloumi.

The estimate for the next five years is that an upward trend will reach $20.9 mln with an annual growth rate of 7.6%.