Cyprus’ famed halloumi cheese earns coveted EU quality mark
Cyprus on March 30 hailed a European Union decision to recognize halloumi cheese as a product distinct to the divided eastern Mediterranean island after a seven-year wait.
Known as halloumi in Greek and hellim in Turkish, the famously barbecue-able cheese is the island’s biggest export, earning a record 250 million euros ($290 million) last year.
The European Union on Monday registered halloumi as a product of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) - a coveted status that guarantees a product’s origin and uniqueness.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades welcomed the move, calling it "a milestone day for halloumi/hellim and our country".
"A shield of protection is now in place," he tweeted on Tuesday.
"Significant prospects for increasing exports of our national product, to the benefit of all Cypriot producers, Greek and Turkish," Anastasiades added.
But the decision, which defines the content of the cheese as 51 percent goat or sheep’s milk, making it more expensive, has left some unhappy.
"This is very bad for north and south producers," Turkish Cypriot hellim factory owner Mahmut Erden told AFP.
Britain is the squeaky cheese’s biggest market, absorbing around 40 percent of export sales.
Cyprus filed a PDO application to the European Commission in July 2014 for the cheese.
The application covers producers across the whole island, including both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.