The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has said that the granting of protected designation of origin (PDO) status for haloumi cheese will have severe consequences for future trade relationships between the EU and Australia.
Currently, Australia produces large volumes of haloumi cheese, which it exports to Asia.
However, the European Commission has granted PDO status to the birthplace of haloumi cheese – the island of Cyprus.
This means that Australian cheese cannot be sold as authentic haloumi and the ADIC say they stand to lose up to $650m (€384m).
Haloumi is a strong textured cheese, with a salty taste that is usually grilled and quite popular in high-end sandwich bars or vegetarian diets, where it provides a similar texture to some meat dishes.
As Cyprus is divided, with one side run by Turkey, the Commission said that it would appoint a private inspection body to conduct inspection of farms and dairies in the Turkish Cypriot community to ensure that they complied with all EU health and hygiene rules.
Despite Australian misgivings, the Commission seems pleased with the outcome.
“This is a major achievement with political and economic significance for the entire island of Cyprus.
“It shows that mutually beneficial solutions are possible, as well as the important role of the Commission in bringing them about,” Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira said.
“The implementation of these arrangements, in a spirit of co-operation, should contribute to bolster trust and confidence between the two Cypriot communities.”