The Halloumi Cheese Wars

NICOSIA – Cyprus has run into problems as its ministry of agriculture applied to register halloumi cheese as a protected destination of origin (PDO) in the EU.

The EU trademarks traditional food from specific geographical regions that are made according to specific standards, methods, and processes.

Halloumi is Cyprus’s second biggest export to overseas markets, the news site Quartz reported.  In 2013, exports were of halloumi were worth €76.4 million ($102 million), up 26% on the prior year, according to the Statistical Service of Cyprus. A decade earlier, halloumi and other Cypriot cheese exports totaled €11.7 million ($17 million). The cheese provides a much-needed fillip for the country’s economy, which was hard hit by the recession.

The government hopes to prevent copycats from creating their own Halloumi, but there are problems within the divided nation itself.

Turkish Cypriots make their own version, hellim, but in order to become a PDO, they must allow their product to be inspected by the Republic of Cyprus government (the Greek-Cypriots), if the Turkish-Cypriots want to be part of the process.

They are hesitant, Quartz reports, and yet do not want to miss out being part of the PDO.

But one thing the two sides are united about is their disagreement with what they consider lax standards about the percentages of types of milk in halloumi, Quartz reported. The PDO allows for at least half of the product to be sheep’s or goat’s milk, and the remainder can be cow’s milk. But Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots alike insist that cow’s milk should not be used at all – as it creates a subpar product.



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