Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis on Friday expressed his satisfaction over the start of halloumi production based on the specifications of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which began on September 1.

An agreement reached between cheese makers, farmers and the ministry in July set a transitional period during which the halloumi produced will have 10 per cent goat and sheep milk, until January 2023. After that, the specifications will jump to 20 per cent, and thereafter the portioning will increase by five per cent a year – reaching 50 per cent by 2029.

The specific framework also set the price of sheep’s milk between €1.35 – €1.45 per litre and goat’s milk, between €0.80 – €0.90 per litre. The price of cow’s milk, Kadis said, would be determined after consultation with the parties involved, with a minimum increase of €0.05 per litre.

The minister expressed satisfaction that the majority of halloumi was designated as PDO by the international organisation Bureau Veritas, and that production based on the specified processes has already begun.

He added that supermarkets have started to receive PDO halloumi, and only some stores of halloumi that does not meet specifications remain.

Production of halloumi based on the strict guidelines set by the European organisations gives added value to these products, Kadis said.

He added that the increase in price, especially in the international markets, is what is being sought, since halloumi, was one of the few products that did not receive the increase it deserved, after increases in all the raw materials used for its production.

Commenting on additional benefits from the PDO designation, Kadis said that there has been a rise in applications to the livestock farming investment scheme run by the ministry.

“We will soon see new livestock units being created,” he said.

Regarding Turkish Cypriot halloumi producers, Kadis said that they have received five applications from producers in the north. He added that all the same guidelines followed for Greek Cypriot producers applied, and that the government would be willing to help Turkish Cypriot farmers in production and, through the green line regulations, exportation of their products to other European countries.

The supermarkets’ association has said that, as of Thursday, only PDO halloumi is being delivered to them.

The general secretary of the Pancyprian Supermarkets Association, Andreas Hadjiadamou, said that they are receiving only PDO halloumi, but there is a 10-15 day transition period in place to deplete older stocks.

“Recommendations have already been made to our members that once a reasonable period of a few days has passed and as soon as previous stocks have been exhausted, any non-PDO halloumi will not be received,” Hadjiadamou said.

He added that it has been made clear to suppliers that, in line with state regulations, uncertified cheese makers will not be able to supply to supermarkets.

At the same time, he characterized as positive the fact that non-PDO halloumi can still be sold under a different name, such as, ‘Cypriot cheese’ or ‘white cheese’, which he said makes the situation clearer.

“My personal opinion is that this will be a positive element that the consumer will be able to take advantage of and give another dynamic to the halloumi market,” Hadjiadamou said.

He added that the price for non-PDO products will be lower, since now the PDO price is increased by about one euro.