The Union of Cypriot Farmers (Eka) on Thursday urged Trade and Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis to order lab tests on halloumi cheese samples, as some producers are suspected of using too much cows’ milk or milk powder, flouting a 2014 decree on the milk ratio in the product.
In a letter, Eka head Panikos Chambas, asked the minister to order intensive checks to confirm whether the decree that stipulates that that the ratio of goat and sheep milk, or a combination of both, needs to be greater than the amount of cow’s milk in halloumi is being respected.
The decree calls for an increase in the quantity of sheep and goat milk in halloumi from 20 per cent to 50 per cent.
The move is aimed at eventually encouraging the increase in production levels of sheep and goat milk in line with an application Cyprus has filed to the European Commission to register halloumi cheese as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Several cheesemakers are not happy about this provision in the application as cow milk is cheaper and more easily available.
Chambas said in his letter that some cheesemakers have recently not been purchasing sheep and goat milk, and as a result there is surplus of this milk.
“Furthermore, some industries, are probably using milk powder in the production of halloumi,” the letter said.
The union urged Lakkotrypis to order lab tests on halloumi cheese samples to discover whether this is true.
In the past, cheesemakers who were found to be non-compliant with the decree have been fined.
The PDO application is still pending. Former agriculture minister Nicos Kouyilais had said last November that all that remains to be done to finalise the approval is to amend the green line regulations so that Turkish Cypriots can market the halloumi they produce. The two sides disagree over how this should be done.