Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis believes the European Union’s recognition of halloumi as a traditional product of Cyprus will yield significant profits to the island’s agricultural and manufacturing sector.
At the same time, this week’s Protected Designation of Origin development which means that only Cypriot halloumi — or hellim in Turkish — can be marketed abroad under that name has managed to also unite the divided island’s political world.
The Minister who gave a press conference in Nicosia on Tuesday said this successful development following a seven-year-long effort will shield the country’s top food export from an increasing number of foreign producers.
Foreign producers use the cheese’s name to muscle into a 224-million-euro market, he explained.
Kadis also said the timing of the designation was crucial as more competitors trying to cash in on the cheese’s popularity were taking advantage of the legal void to market their own version of halloumi under that name that doesn’t necessarily conform to traditional standards.
Cyprus is currently involved in 80 court cases against foreign producers who “unlawfully” use the halloumi name to market their cheese.
The agreement appears to have overcome a key obstacle that stems from the complex politics of the divided island. Turkish Cypriots have wanted to export the cheese directly from their self-declared state in the country’s northern third that’s recognized only by Turkey. International laws prohibit that.
Cyprus is divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern part of the EU member state.
The bloc’s rules and regulations only apply to the only recognised internationally Republic of Cyprus.
Kadis also said that the Cypriot government has authorized Bureau Veritas — a European body that certifies food and agricultural products — to perform checks on halloumi, or hellim, produced on both sides divide to ensure it meets exact quality specifications.