Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis said on Thursday Cyprus was in final negotiations with the registration of halloumi/hellim as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, which would be achieved hopefully by summer, he said.
Ten more traditional Cypriot products are in line for PDO registration, Kouyialis said.
Addressing the press, Kouyialis said the ultimate goal was registering the dairy product as a PDO against “mimesis and unfair competition”.
“We are at the final stage of the procedure and we hope that by summer we will have achieved this great goal,” he said.
On July 17, 2015, the Commission received the official application for the registration of the names halloumi/hellim as a PDO. The application covers producers from the whole island and foresees the protection of the name in the two languages, Greek and Turkish. On July 28 2015, Cyprus’ application to register halloumi as a PDO was published in the EU official journal. This followed a visit by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker during which he announced a common understanding between the two Cypriot leaders on the contentious issue.
Halloumi, Kouyialis said, had begun to “conquer” international markets the last few years. “Its registration as a PDO will create a product of high commercial value and will benefit the island’s economy,” he added.
“Short-term and long-term, all the sectors of the agricultural economy will benefit – agriculture, farming, cheese making – but also commerce in general,” Kouyialis said.
He also stressed the importance of taking steps for the production of goat’s and sheep’s milk. The halloumi file stipulates that the ratio of goat’s and sheep’s milk, or a combination, needs to be more than the amount of cow’s milk. Toward that end the government announced last year measures worth €35 million aimed at supporting sheep and goat farmers for the next three years. At the moment, Greek Cypriot producers face a shortage of sheep and goat’s milk, which amounts to around 20 per cent of the industry. Due to the circumstances, the island was granted a 10 year adjustment period from the European Commission.
Kouyialis said there were nine objections to Cyprus PDO application from private companies from the UK, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, Kuwait and the US. He said his ministry was currently looking into the files and that negotiations with those objecting are to begin soon.
Kouyialis also said that other ten agro-food products are being promoted for PDO registration, including rosewater and rose petal sweet preserve from Agros, taro from Sotira, and sausage and cold cuts from the Pitsilia area.
“PDO registration will give a brand to our products, will enhance the quality offered by the Cypriot land and the rich Cypriot gastronomy, thus enhancing the tourist product of Cyprus,” he said.