The agreement reached by halloumi producers and the Cypriot government a year ago, which allowed the halloumi file to be approved for PDO certification in July 2022, appears to be in jeopardy again.
Some of the island’s producers are now questioning the terms of the agreement, specifically the issue of the amount of cow and goat-sheep milk. In fact, they believe that PDO certification has generally proven to be harmful to producers. For this reason, they have appealed to the European Court of Justice, demanding the withdrawal of the PDO certification for halloumi, a year after reaching the agreement that temporarily ended the disputes between the producers and the government and allowed the product to be approved by the EU.
The «thorn» in the side of the deal appears to remain the issue of the required ratio of cow and goat-sheep milk, although the government has already agreed to postpone the meeting of the agreed terms until 2024.
In specific, from 2024, halloumi products will be allowed to bare the legal PDO label if they contain 10% of goat-sheep milk during the low productivity period (February to August) and 25% during the high productivity period, a percentage that is supposed to increase by 5% each year, until the desired 50% is reached by 2029.
However, according to the Minister of Agriculture Petros Xenophontos, the producers’ appeal endangers the existing agreement, as due to the objections the court could decide to restore the original, and burdensome for the producers, terms of the agreement.
In that case though, changes implemented following pressure from producers, such as the inclusion of other halloumi products in the PDO agreement, such as sliced cheese or ready-to-fry halloumi sticks, would become invalid.
According to the minister’s statements, moreover, the PDO certification has clearly benefited the product and has boosted the exports, which reached 284.5 million euros in 2022, marking an increase of 8% compared to 2021, while since the beginning of the year up to April reached 111.8 million euros, compared to 99.1 million euros in the same period of 2022.
Concluding his statements to a well-known newspaper of Cyprus, Mr Xenophontos recalled that PDO certification was pursued precisely because it ensures the authenticity and the Cypriot origin of the halloumi cheese.
Therefore, he appealed to halloumi producers to withdraw their request for the cancellation of the PDO certification, which has only benefited the product and the producers themselves, and will benefit them even more in the future, as the numbers undoubtedly show.