A total of 61 cheese dairies have so far applied to participate in the certification and controls scheme for halloumi cheese, Cyprus Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Minister, Costas Kadis said on Tuesday, adding that 42 of them have received preliminary approval.
Speaking before the Agriculture and Natural Resources parliamentary committee, that looked into the problems related to the marketing of halloumi cheese and complaints for the production of halloumi in violation to the standards of production, Kadis said that the cheese dairies that have secured this preliminary approval produce more than 85% of the halloumi quantity that is produced in the Republic of Cyprus.
Kadis noted that after the official registration of halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) the Ministry worked intensively in order to implement as of October 1st the provisions of the relevant regulations and reach an agreement with Bureau Veritas, which is the auditor that will carry out the controls.
The Minister said that the approval that has been given expires on December 31, 2021, and Bureau Veritas will have to carry out checks on the ground until December 20, 2021, so that the approval can be renewed.
Moreover he said that as of January 1st, 2022, controls will be carried out in livestock farms.
As regards cheese makers, Kadis said that 953 goat farmers, 233 cattle farmers and 8 owners of mixed farms have applied to join the certification and controls scheme.
On her part, Energy, Commerce and Industry Minister, Natasa Pilides, said that in cooperation with the Law Office of the Republic the Ministry works to protect halloumi in third countries.
She noted that Cyprus has registered trademarks in the US, the UK, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Africa and that significant efforts are being made to also have such trade marks in other important markets as China, Japan, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Moreover Pilides said that halloumi exports are very encouraging, despite the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, she said that while halloumi exports in 2013 amounted approximately to 75.8 million euros, in 2020 they were over 260 million euros, with the main markets being the UK (50% of the exports) and Sweden.
As regards legal measures being taken, Pilides said that there are 22 cases of registered trademarks by third parties in the UK which are being examined by the Law Office and the Ministry, while there are also 23 cases of a possible infringement for which warning letters have been sent.
Moreover, Pilides said that there was compliance or withdrawal of trade marks in 20 cases after legal measures were taken, while a case was won in court against a Hungarian enterprise on October 30, 2020.