The Commerce Ministry was criticised on Tuesday for delaying to register halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product with the EU and failing to take action against companies manufacturing imitations of the authentic Cypriot cheese.
According to an announcement by the New Rural Movement, the Ministry's indifference over the matter has seriously compromised one of Cyprus' most profitable exports.
"The ministry has made no objections against an application by a Greek company to register its cheese as halloumi. As the wider representative of all cheese manufacturers on the island the ministry had an obligation to do so in order to avoid potentially huge economic loses." The movement was referring to reports of an online advertisement by Greek company Vermion of a cheese called halloumi, which is not believed to be manufactured according to the Cypriot prototype.
The company is said to have filed an application with the European Office of Harmonisation for the Internal Market (OHIM) on September 26, 2013. The application was accepted for review and published online along with a three month notice of opposition.
The deadline expired earlier this month without any objections raised by the ministry but the process was halted following an application of opposition from the Cyprus Dairy Farmers Association which said it acted to protect the interests of all involved in the Cyprus cheese manufacturing industry. The current version of the prototype which was approved by parliament last year helps standardise halloumi production and ensure that it is made as close to the 1985 standard as seasonal milk production allows.
It states that for the period December to June halloumi must contain 35% sheep and goat milk while for the July to November period it would contain 23%. The remaining percentage of the cheese is cow's milk.
Registering halloumi as a PDO product carries a number of benefits for Cyprus, including the producers' exclusive rights to use a registered name and EU logos on their packaging. However, until the cheese is officially registered the name halloumi is up for grabs by cheese manufacturers around the globe.