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Halloumi Cheese Makes Up 20% of Cyprus’ Exports

Halloumi cheese grilled
In the first quarter of 2023, halloumi cheese exports increased sharply, accounting for 20 percent of Cyprus’ total product exports. Credit: Hmioannou / CC-BY-3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

In the first quarter of 2023, Cyprus’ halloumi cheese exports increased sharply, accounting for 20 percent of the country’s total product exports. The figures, totaling €111.8 million, were revealed by Petros Xenophontos, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment of Cyprus.

Speaking at the 4th Halloumi and Trachanas Festival in Meniko, Xenophontos emphasized the importance of the European Commission recognizing Halloumi as a product with a protected designation of origin in 2021. He called it a monumental achievement benefiting Cypriot agriculture and the national economy. Furthermore, the Minister stressed that European recognition has increased the value of halloumi cheese.

Xenophontos elaborated on the importance of registration, saying: “It contributes to ensuring the quality of halloumi and protects it from imitation products.” He also noted that products made outside of Cyprus “cannot be in the European market under the name halloumi.”

Highlighting the growing international demand for halloumi cheese, he noted that in the first quarter of 2023, exports reached €111.8 million. This amount was equivalent to 20.49 percent of Cyprus’ total exports.

Despite the impressive growth, Xenophon warned of the need to maintain high quality products. He stressed that it “is directly linked to its high demand in the markets.” Furthermore, he attributed the quality of the cheese to the use of local goat and sheep milk.

Xenophon concluded by calling halloumi cheese a “jewel” among traditional Cypriot agricultural products. He also described it as a pioneer in opening the doors to international markets for other Cypriot agricultural products.

Cyprus’ Beloved Cheese

Halloumi, Cyprus’ favorite cheese, received PDO labeling in 2021 after hard-won protected origin status recognized by the EU.

The cheese, traditionally made of goat or sheep milk and sometimes mixed with cow milk and flavored with mint, had impressive sales of €266.5 million in 2020. Much like feta, its PDO designation required a specific ratio of milk, maintaining traditional cooking methods.

Feta, a Unique Greek Cheese

feta greece denmark
Feta cheese on a Greek “Horiatiki” salad. Credit: Zone 41/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-2.0

When it comes to the most famous and beloved Greek cheese, feta held a vital place, with each region having its own unique varieties.

As it was reported in August, Greek authorities considered appealing to the European Court after discovering two cases of feta cheese imitation. One case involved the trademark “Athenos Feta” registered in Chile. Another concerned “Valbreso Feta,” produced in Wisconsin, USA.

In 2022, Greece won a legal victory when the European Court of Justice ruled that Denmark violated EU law by selling “feta” cheese outside of the EU. Feta, a PDO product for two decades, may only be produced in Greece under specific guidelines.

This cheese plays a prominent role in Greek cuisine, appearing in dishes such as Greek salad, spanakopita, and tiropita. Mediterranean cheese-making dates back to the 8th century BC, with references to cheese resembling feta in Homer’s Odyssey.

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