Scientists from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have announced they are conducting research to help Cyprus secure future halloumi exports.
According to the institute, the project aims to boost milk from sheep and goats, which currently does not fulfill demand, by designing selective breeding programmes for the animals.
“Halloumi makes an important contribution to the Cypriot economy, accounting for more than 15 per cent of domestic exports, with the UK being the number one market,” the institute stated.
At the moment, much of the halloumi produced has a high amount of cow’s milk, but this will likely be prohibited in future. An application for the cheese to be recognised with protected designation of origin (PDO) status is pending. If the status is granted Cyprus will have to stick to the traditional method of halloumi production.
The application which was filed in July 2015 stipulates that the ratio of goat’s and sheep’s milk, or a combination of both, needs to be more than the amount of cow’s milk.
“The project combines our specialism in animal genetics and genomics with expertise in plant and microbial genetics,” Ricardo Pong-Wong from the Roslin institute said. “It will allow implementation of an effective scheme to secure the future of halloumi that takes into account the unique conditions associated with farming Cypriot goats and sheep.”
In Cyprus, there is a long-running dispute over the sheep/goat and cow milk ratio content in halloumi cheese, as the cheese industry insists that there is not enough sheep and goat’s milk to meet demand.
Lately, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation has taken successful measures to promote the cheese.
A pop-up restaurant which was open in London from November 13 to 26 was created by the organisation with this in mind.
Every single course of the menu featured halloumi, with dishes such as halloumi and cauliflower fritters with a lime pickle yoghurt, grilled courgette and halloumi salad, chargrilled halloumi flatbread and crumbled halloumi fingers with tomato chilli jam. The menu even featured a unique cheese ice-cream for dessert. Originally intended to run for just one week from Monday 13 November, the idea proved so popular, selling out the week it was announced, that the pop-up restaurant was open for another week at 100 Hoxton.
As part of its advertising campaign, one of Britain’s largest chain supermarkets, Waitrose, has placed halloumi cheese on its ‘essential’ list this year.
The Roslin Institute is part of the AGRICYGEN partnership with institutions in Cyprus and other world leaders in animal, plant and microbial genetic and genomics research in France and Germany. The project, funded by the European Union through the ‘Widespread’ programme, aims at establishing a centre of excellence to support livestock and feed production in Cyprus by enhancing research capacity in the area of genetics and genomics.