Cyprus food products is a major export category to the US and Canada. One of the leading products is Halloumi cheese. There are 11 Cypriot Dairies exporting now to the US. Halloumi is the national cheese of Cyprus and has a national certification mark since 1990. Although we had received the mark in 1990, we had to defend it for over seven years against the Kingdom of Denmark. We were successful and now halloumi only comes from Cyprus, which guarantees the US consumer that he is getting the original unique halloumi cheese made in a traditional way and guards consumers against imitations from other countries.
Halloumi exports have been increasing 30-38% per year over the last 7 years. The biggest increase took place last year and it was in the range of 60%. We expect halloumi exports to grow as American consumers are now able to find it, not only in the ethnic stores, but also in chain stores, such us Cheeseworks, CostCo, and also Gourmet stores. It’s been reviewed by Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetite Magazine, New York Magazine.
Cheese consumption in the United States has been growing and we have been able to take advantage of this growth in the cheese sector by filling the gap with halloumi cheese from Cyprus.
Other products in the food industry include extra virgin olive oil, which is a new export from Cyprus in the last 2 years. Also our Cypriot lemons are exported for the third year. We have a continued growth process for exports of both lemons and mandoras every year. Over all, halloumi was the spearhead in the introduction of Cyprus to the food sector of the United States.
Another big exporting product is the wines of Cyprus, coming from some of the most ancient vineyards of the world. Wine industry in Cyprus is an extremely important sector. It employs 1/5 of the population during harvesting season and this sector has had success with commandaria exports to the United States and Canada. The US is now the second largest export market for commandaria. It is available in approximately 22 states in the US – which is a good distribution – and we expect it will continue to grow with the American consumer because it’s unique. It’s also registered – almost 8 years ago – as an appellation of origin of the Republic of Cyprus. It is defined as a special region and sets it apart from other dessert wines in the US.
We are making progress in exports from our table wines. In the last two years we are exporting chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon etc. Many small boutique wineries in Cyprus have entered the US market. We foresee that this will continue but not at a strong pace, because of the strong competition that we face with other countries, like New World countries and US produced wines as well. It will take some time for us to grow into a national product in the wine sector, except for commandaria, which has won many awards and has been the flagship wine of Cyprus.