The halloumi PDO (protected designation of origin) is a “protective shield,” Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said on Friday as the cheese entered the European Commission’s register for PDO and protected geographical indications.

As of today, only halloumi/hellim produced in Cyprus and according to the product specification can use the registered name. This includes cheese made in the north, which the regulations permit to cross the Green Line provided it meets EU production standards.

Speaking to CyBC, Kadis expressed hopes that all relevant stakeholders on the supply chain would collaborate in order to reap the full benefits of the new development.

He added that talks are underway between the ministry and the Cyprus Cheese Producers Association, who took legal action against the European Commission in June along with 11 other applicants in an attempt to stop the inclusion of halloumi on the PDO register.

They are seeking an amendment to the specifications to avoid reducing output, their main objection having to do with the type of milk used.

Currently, 80 per cent cow’s milk is used and 20 per cent sheep and goat’s milk (in the past it was made entirely with cow’s milk). The PDO specifications, however, stipulate that 51 per cent of milk used would have to be sheep and goat, which cheesemakers believe will hurt their interests by reducing production and changing the taste of halloumi, making it unappealing to European consumers.

Phileleftheros reported that as of Thursday, 30 cheesemakers – covering 80 per cent of the local and exports market – had secured contracts to produce halloumi according to the PDO specifications, with more likely to join the list once they have correctly filed their documentation with Bureau Veritas, the designated control body for halloumi.