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Cyprus: Halloumi cheese receives EU protection status


Cyprus is protected for its precious halloumi, giving its producers the sole right to sell rubber cheese in the EU. 


According to the Cyprus Ministry of Agriculture, later this month, the European Union will formally grant Hallomi (Turkish “hellim“) protected designation of origin (PDO) status, which will take effect from October. 


George Petrou, general manager of Petrou Brothers Dairy Company, said the move reiterated the words of the industry and the country over the years. Petruo Brothers Dairy Company accounts for approximately 25% of the Cyprus export market: Hallomi is a Cypriot, and historical records indicate that the country was the first to produce this product. Around 1500. 


He said: “Unfortunately, many countries have tried to imitate us in recent years, so registration will be very helpful because other countries will not produce halloumi or similar to mislead consumers.” 


As a child, Petrou learned the secret of making halloumi from his late mother Kakkoulou, who sold halloumi at the farmers market. When she gently stirred the milk to separate the curds in a huge “hartzin” or cauldron, he would grind around the kitchen and observe her. 


In 1982, Petrou started selling halloumi under the Alambra brand to increase his income as a first-class football player, but he did not look back. Starting with 250 liters of milk a day to make halloumi sugar, Petrou’s company was originally established with an older brother and now processes 250 tons of milk a day, employs 220 employees, and exports to 40 countries. 


According to official data, the industry has now become the country’s second largest export commodity after pharmaceuticals. In the past five years, the industry has grown at a rate of 20% to 22% annually. 

The Ministry of Agriculture said it is now setting its sights on the Chinese market. There are still some obstacles to overcome in securing the precious PDO status, including differences in the proportions of goat milk, sheep milk and milk in the formula. By 2024, the ratio will be determined by decree, after which at least 50% will be composed of sheep and goat milk, and the rest will be supplemented by milk. 


Although there are many recipes for halloumi cheese online, for locals, enjoyment is the simplest form of multi-functional cheese-throw it on a frying pan or grill, eat it raw in summer with melon, or cut into small cubes , Throw into the cracked wheat trahana to boil and eat the yogurt soup in winter.


Evroulla Ioannou said: “A lot of tourists come here to find food.” Ioannou works as a chef who grills Halloumi in her popular restaurant in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. She said: “Some… only know its name, so they come to try it. From my eyes, they really like it.”


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