All halloumi products in Cyprus have been made legally for decades and are subject to checks by both the agriculture ministry and the commerce ministry, the Association of Cyprus Cheesemakers said on Sunday.
The group was commenting on recent comments by the agriculture over which types of halloumi meet the requirements for the PDO.
Speaking in parliament last month Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis warned stakeholders in the halloumi business that unless they agree to a compromise proposal of his, he would report any further violations of halloumi specifications under the protected designation of origin (PDO) to the attorney-general as well as to the EU’s Agri-Food Fraud Network.
He said his efforts are geared at allowing the mass production of halloumi under the PDO.
The halloumi products the cheesemakers referred to included halloumi light, halloumi with chili, and all other types of halloumi that are produced but do not meet the standards of the PDO.
After MPs argued that the en masse production of halloumi has yet to begin, Kadis said was because cheesemakers are giving their own legal interpretation to the trademark.
“Products that the State Legal Service itself, in the context of defending the Collective Trademark from its cancellation proceedings, submitted evidence before the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) with affidavits from both cheesemakers and public officials,” the cheesemakers said.
These were produced under the control of the Foundation for the Protection of Halloumi, which owns the halloumi trademark in the EU, the added.
The agriculture ministry suggested that one of the solutions could be the coexistence of halloumi that will be manufactured based on PDO, with halloumi made under the trademark that some producers owned before the registration of the product.
But the minister said that Cyprus would not want the PDO product next to the others on shop shelves, as it would confuse consumers.
The cheesemakers on Sunday made a final call to stop any reports on halloumi issues that cause market disruption and insecurity in the product, as they only cause damage with a direct negative impact on exports.
Halloumi secured PDO status last April, and its production under that status started last October. However, producers claim that they face a series of problems concerning sufficiency of sheep and goat milk to meet the quota and other specifications that will not allow them to continue exporting it in large quantities.