Cypriot cheese-makers are worried about Cyprus’ post-Brexit relationship with Britain, CNA reports.
Halloumi exports to Britain account for 44% of total exports of the cheese from Cyprus.
The worst-case scenario is for Britain to be considered a third country, Charalambides-Cristis CEO Marios Constantinou told CNA.
“Based on official export figures for 2017, 44% of halloumi exports are to the United Kingdom, where the unstable socio-economic environment may affect our trade relationship in the future,” Constantinou said.
If duties are imposed, the product will automatically find itself in a weaker position than it is today, as the sales price will rise, he added.
If prices are affected by duties, “other counties which produce imitations of halloumi, will have the opportunity to enter the market, selling products at much lower prices,” President of Association of Cypriot Cheese-makers Giorgos Petrou told CNA.
He explained that countries such as Hungary or Bulgaria produce grilled cheeses similar to halloumi and sell them at lower prices.
This happens because the milk needed for the production of halloumi is cheaper in these countries, which gives them a competitive advantage, Petrou added, while noting that the price of milk in Cyprus is double that of almost all EU countries.
Registering halloumi as a product with protected designation of origin will ensure that halloumi produced in other countries will not be sold in foreign supermarkets and will widen the cheese’s access to international markets, Constantinou said.
Exports rising significantly
During the past five years, global halloumi exports have been increasing by around 20% annually. Last year, Cyprus exported 28,000 tons of the cheese.
In January 2018, the value of halloumi exports reached €13 million, making it the third biggest Cypriot export product.
“Our exports have increased very much. In the last four years, they have been growing by 4000 tons per year,” Petrou, told CNA. The prolonged summer this year in Europe favored halloumi as it is a barbecue cheese, he added.
Global consumption of the cheese has been rising sharply as it can now be found in supermarkets of countries such as England, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Australia.
“Halloumi has been identified as a key ingredient in global consumer preferences, due the rise of popularity of the Mediterranean diet,” Constantinou concluded.