The problems that are presented in relation to the trade of halloumi and the complaints for the construction of halloumi in violation of the standard, were discussed by the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, in the presence of the Ministers of Energy, Trade and Industry and Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Natasa P. and Costa Kadis, respectively.
During the meeting, halloumi producers raised the issue of the large stockpiles of halloumi that have accumulated in recent months, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, which reach 6 million kilos, with the two Ministers assuring that various steps are being taken to This issue, even through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that these quantities can be sold without affecting the current selling price of the product.
At the same time, the Minister of Agriculture announced the inclusion in the near future of all breeds of sheep and goats that live and breed in Cyprus in order to have much more productive breeds and “to produce much larger quantities of milk”.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Kadis said that after the official registration of halloumi as a “product of Protected Protection of Origin (PDO), there was a struggle by the Ministry to be ready to implement from October 1 (2021) what the regulations and in particular to reach an agreement with the Audit Body which is the Bureau Veritas to start the audits “.
He also referred to the preparation by the Ministry together with the body for the relevant documents to be available on October 1 for Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot in both Greek and Turkish.
Referring to data, Mr. Kadis said that to date, 61 dairies have applied for participation in the certification and control system for halloumi PDO, of which 42 have received preliminary approval, while noting that the dairies that have been given this preliminary approval produce more than 85% of the total amount of halloumi produced in the Republic of Cyprus “.
He stated that the approval expires on December 31, 2021 and for the renewal of the approval “a necessary condition is to have been preceded by the on-site physical inspection by the Bureau Veritas by December 20, 2021”.
The Minister of Agriculture announced that about 30% of the dairies have received preliminary approval and the rest have a month and a half to receive the approval, while from January 1, 2022, the on-site inspections in the livestock units will begin.
At the level of cheesemakers, according to Mr. Kadis, 953 sheep and goat breeders, 233 cow breeders and 8 mixed farms applied for participation in the certification and control system for the halloumi PDO.
In addition, the Minister said that products bearing the name halloumi, helim and bearing the seal of the PDO “must comply with all the specifications of preparation and packaging of the product as described in the relevant legislation”, while stressing that “after October 1 ( of 2021) can not be marketed either in Cyprus or in any other European country a product called halloumi if it is not PDO “.
He also referred to two requests received by the Ministry for amendments to the specifications of the dossier which are being examined, while he stated that among the changes that are being examined and are expected to be submitted to the Commission is the one concerning “breeds so that all animals in Cyprus can included in the standard “.
Regarding the cost of production, Mr. Kadis said that “we had significant increases” and the Government supported the farmers “so that they do not bear the increase in the cost of feed alone”.
He also said that due to the pandemic, some significant quantities of halloumi stocks have been accumulated, amounting to thousands of tons.
He added that the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have taken steps to dispose of these stocks and noted that “if we overcome this problem with stocks then the product will get its real price and farmers will get what they deserve.”
Regarding the increase of the percentage until 2024, the Minister of Agriculture said that the one direction in which the Ministry is moving is “to include all the breeds that live and breed in Cyprus in order to have much more productive breeds in our quiver”, that is , as he explained, with the same number of animals to produce much larger quantities of milk “.
The second direction, he continued, is the large investments that are expected through the relevant measure of the rural development program, as around 30 million euros will be given in the next three years for sheep and goats and we are expected to see a substantial increase, which is already observed in production. sheep and goat milk “.
Regarding the number of sheep in Cyprus, Mr. Kadis said that there are around 400,000 sheep and goats, of which 10,000 are purebred sheep outside the standard, while the rest are “crosses that tend to be standard”.
“With the change we are attempting, we believe that all this can be included below the standard,” he underlined.
Regarding the occupied territories, Mr. Kadis said that the registration was done for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and added that halloumi is currently produced in the occupied territories and “is sent to third countries uncontrollably”.
We can not hinder this process, he said, adding, however, that “the halloumi produced in the occupied territories to pass the PDO must pass all the tests (phytosanitary and standard controls) and only then will it bear the PDO stamp in order to be able to cross the green line and be channeled into markets legally. “
For her part, the Minister of Commerce initially referred to the trademarks of the Republic of Cyprus in the various third countries and noted that the Ministry in cooperation with the Legal Service is protecting halloumi in third countries.
He noted that Cyprus has registered trademarks in the USA, the United Kingdom, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Africa, and added that significant efforts are being made to register trademarks in some markets. particularly important such as China, Japan, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Regarding the protection of trademarks, Ms. Pileidou said that the competent unit in the Ministry is undertaking this work and “we are taking all appropriate actions to deal with the phenomena” and added that “exports are at a very encouraging point”, despite the challenges of the coronavirus industry.
Specifically, the Minister of Commerce said that in 2013 the exports of halloumi were around 75.8 million euros and in 2020 exceeded 260 million euros and noted that the main markets are the United Kingdom (it reaches 50% of exports) and Sweden.
Regarding the legal measures, Ms. Peleidou said that in the United Kingdom there are 22 cases of registered trademarks from the third day that are evaluated by the Legal Service and the Ministry, while 23 cases of possible violation are underway where warning letters have been sent.
He also said that in 20 cases after the legal measures were taken, there was compliance or even withdrawal of the trademarks, while there were also legal successes such as against a Hungarian company on October 30, 2020.
Regarding the increase in the stocks of cheesemakers, Ms. Pileidou said that the information she has is that “in recent months” the stocks have increased and added that through the Foreign Ministry “we have contacted all the embassies” of the Republic “to do an effort to dispose of stocks through transnational arrangements “.
He also announced that contacts have been made with shopping malls in specific markets in order to sell the products, while he expressed the need for careful actions on the issue “so that there are no negative effects on the price of halloumi”, while noting that the Ministry is in contact the cheesemakers on the subject.
Regarding the imposition of a ceiling, Ms. Pileidou said that if there is a need to impose a ceiling on milk, the Ministry will consider it.
In statements after the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee Giannakis Gabriel said that “our concerns have been verified”, adding that while in the next two years we must reach milk production to be able to produce with the current data 33,000 tons per year, there is a possibility of milk production in such numbers, if the Ministry of Agriculture does not stand next to the livestock “.
He said that the Minister announced 30 million euros and 1,000 sheep and goat farmers were asked to produce PDO halloumi, adding that “each sheep and goat farmer has 15,000 euros per year”.
“If these are the measures that the Anastasiadis Government will support to support our halloumi and exports, then we are far from how we will trade halloumi for the next two years,” he added.
Mr Gabriel called for a plan to support livestock farmers, adding that “costs are rising, grain and electricity and fuel prices are rising, with absolutely no targeted support for farmers”.
DISY MP Charalambos Pazaros said that “after decades of efforts we managed to protect our national product after the EU unanimously recognized Halloumi as a Cypriot product” and added that “we have heard the problems and will work with everyone involved to find the necessary solutions regarding its irregular construction “.
“This is a serious issue that endangers the definition of halloumi but also our producers”, he said and added that for DISY the protection and survival of halloumi as a national product is of utmost importance “.