The registration of halloumi cheese as a protected designation of origin product has proven to be beneficial. This is demonstrated by the latest data from the statistical service regarding exports, as well as sales in the Cypriot market. Regarding exports, halloumi cheese has consistently been one of Cyprus' main export products, with statistics indicating a percentage of around 17% of total exports. This year, a record in exports was recorded with export value reaching €284.5 million, surpassing the record of 2020, the previous best year, by 7%, and last year's exports by 8%.
Exports were good in August 2022 and reached €23.4 million just before the implementation of the regulation in Cyprus. In the following month, September, the numbers for August were not recorded (exports were at €16.5 million). In October 2022, the month after the start of the PDO, exports fluctuated at €16.1 million (€243.3 million for the year), while in November, product exports rose to €21.8 million (€265.168 million for the 11 months) and exports in December were around €19.5 million. It now appears that sales of the product, mainly abroad, are steadily increasing. For example, in January 2022, halloumi exports amounted to €16.907 million, while this year's January exports amounted to €22.661 million. This is an increase of around 34%. In statements to "K" newspaper, Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophon emphasized that after registration, halloumi PDO has been strengthened and the export activities of cheesemakers are constantly increasing. As he said, the daily production of halloumi reaches an average of €1 million based on statistical data.
Despite the good sales performance, it is a fact that the prices of the product have increased after the producers complied with the specifications defined by the European regulation. Thus, the cost of the certified product has increased to around €2/kilo. Now, in the domestic market, the consumer can buy halloumi cheese from €7.5/kilo up to €18/kilo. According to the latest price observatory of the Consumer Protection Service, the average selling price of the product ranges from €13.59/kilo to €16.26/kilo. Despite the increase, the sales of halloumi cheese have not been affected, and there are also more economical alternative options. As the General Secretary of the Supermarkets Association, Andreas Chatziadamou, states, halloumi cheese remains an attractive product, has fanatical supporters, and its demand remains stable. At the same time, non-PDO halloumi cheese is gaining market share, which, due to its price, has attracted consumer interest.
It's expensive for passengers
For those traveling and wishing to buy the product from the airports of Larnaca and Paphos, the price has a significant deviation from the prices in other retail stores. The cost of halloumi cheese at airports can clearly be a deterrent factor in ending up in the traveler's duty-free basket.
Specifically, halloumi cheese at Larnaca and Paphos airports is sold at around €20 per kilogram. This means that there is a difference of about €4 per kilogram compared to the average price for the most expensive halloumi included in the Consumer Protection Service's Price Observatory, with the cheapest halloumi at the airport being €14 per kilogram. According to sources from the airport's duty-free shops, the product sold for €30 per kilogram is Aegina halloumi, which falls under the premium category.
Additionally, the packaging for the halloumi cheese sold at the airports is different, in order to be safely preserved until the traveler who will purchase it reaches their destination.
Currently, three companies have managed to place the product in the refrigerators of Cypriot airports. These are Charalambides Christis, Alambra Dairy Industries (which was added the last year), and Marulla Halloumi.
Anyway, despite the fact that it is an expensive product, it seems that there is interest from passengers, which translates into sales, and it is estimated that the Halloumi category will record better performance in the coming period. Already, Cyprus Duty-Free is promoting the product through visual and audiovisual material about the production process of the product, as well as a tasting service of the product for travelers. Soon, it is expected that the product will be offered cooked at its sales points as part of the tasting.
[This article was first published in the Kathimerini's Oikonomiki printed edition and translated from its Greek original]