Traditional Cyprus squeaky cheese is taking a beating with dairy producers angry at the legal services for, what they call, a self-destructive strategy, leading to lost cases against firms that are making fake halloumi.

Some countries and dairy makers abroad are penetrating markets controlled by Cypriot producers with their version of halloumi, encouraged by the loss of the UK trademark, said Cyprus Dairy Producers Association president George Petrou.

A British court annulled Cyprus’ halloumi trademark after a case was brought before it by Cypriot UK-based company, while a Bulgarian company recently acquired the right to register its halloumi-type product under the name ‘BBQLOUMI’.

“Some dairy producers have started selling their halloumi-type products. In the case of Bulgaria, the battle was not lost, as there was no battle. We had simply appealed as the Republic of Cyprus at the highest level, their supreme court rejected our appeal,” Petrou told the Financial Mirror.

He said the association sought legal advice as to why Cyprus had lost several cases recently.

“Our advisors have concluded that the fault lies with the legal services. In recent cases they have not made use of the clause included in the trademark description, that halloumi should be made using Cypriot milk,” said Petrou.

He argued that the legal services are focussing on the ratio of cow’s to sheep milk, included in the Product of Designated Origin (PDO) file submitted to the European Commission.

He said that in some cases companies are using a limited amount of Cypriot milk imported from Cyprus, in an attempt to play around with the description.

At a recent cheese fair in Germany, Petrou was disappointed to report that among them was several Greek dairy producers.

He noted that Ministry of Commerce officials present at the fair, approached these companies questioning the origin of their products, only to obtain vague answers.

Petrou said there were producers with halloumi-type products at the event from countries such as the UK, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary.

He said the threat may not be apparent at the moment, as demand exceeds the capacity of the Cypriot dairy industry, but it will endanger halloumi exports in the foreseeable future.

He called on all stakeholders to find a way to protect Cyprus’ traditional white cheese.

“We need to see how we can make our brand stronger. We need to unite all the forces and see how to handle the issue…Halloumi is estimated to generate EUR 230 mln in revenue and supports 13,000 families.”

Financial Mirror

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