UK producers of Halloumi intend to fight Cyprus’ application to have the cheese registered as a PDO (protected designation of origin) .
In an as yet, unpublished article in the British trade magazine ‘The Grocer’ the author of the article, Carina Perkins wrote that “the UK is currently consulting on this issue, and has asked companies to formally register their intention to object to the PDO application by September.”
Three UK cheese makers and one importer are objecting to the application, Perkins says. These are:
Old Plaw Hatch Farm, High Weald Dairy, and Yorkshire Dama Cheese. According to their websites, all make halloumi. No one was available for comment yesterday. High Weald Dairy’s site says it makes its organic halloumi from 100% sheep’s milk, which won an international cheese award in 2010.
Yorkshire Dama Cheese, which produces what it calls ‘Yorkshire Halloumi’, is run by a woman, Razan Alsous, who fled the war in Syria in 2012. She told The Yorkshire Post in an interview: “Halloumi is very popular in Syria, we would usually have it for breakfast. When I came here I noticed there is not always halloumi available, sometimes it is just in the summer or in supermarkets. I did some research and discovered the UK is the second largest consumer of halloumi in Europe, but it’s not often manufactured, it’s imported.”
Since that interview, the British have overtaken the Swedes in their consumption of halloumi. Sales of the cheese in the UK rose 35% between 2011 and 2012. Sales in Tesco’s increased by 132% during the same period.
Increasing amounts of halloumi have been imported to the UK, where today, the cheese is one top 20 favourites.
Perkins said as far as she understood, the UK cheese makers would be objecting to the PDO on the basis that halloumi is a generic type of cheese, rather than one that belongs to Cyprus. “Some are arguing that halloumi in fact originated in the Middle East,” Perkins told the ‘Cyprus Mail’ in an email.
Cyprus’ PDO application which was published in the EU Journal in late July says: “Halloumi is considered traditional to Cyprus … it has played a very important role in the life and diet of the island’s inhabitants, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, since ancient times and knowledge of the production process has been handed down from one generation to the next.”
The Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the European Union Kornelios Korneliou had previously said he expected some countries to appeal the application but did not specify which ones. They have three months from the date it was published in the Journal to do so. Cyprus will have a further two months to provide a response.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker supports Cyprus’ application. He helped resolve the issues relating to the Turkish Cypriot producers of halloumi – which they call hellim – during a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci during his visit in July.
However, some local producers in the South have objected to the inclusion of the name Hellim in the PDO application because they cannot supply sufficient ewes and goats milk to maintain the standard.
North Cyprus also had objected to the PDO application for fear of losing 25% of their annual exports, which hellim production provides.
Pan Cyprian Organisation of Cattle Farmers leader Nicos Papakyriakou also called the decision to incorporate the word hellim a “criminal mistake that would give Turkish Cypriot producers the upper hand” because Turkish Cypriots do not face such shortages.
Following the application, South Cyprus Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis however announced measures worth 35 million euros in order to support sheep and goat farmers in the South for the next three years.