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The History of Halloumi

Long term History

Halloumi has been made and produced in Cyprus since ancient times. The first reference to the halloumi was written in a document by Doge Leonardo Donna (1556), during the Venetian occupation, while in 1738 the traveller/writer Richard Pococke states that the halloumi is famous throughout the Levante.

Since then, halloumi has been a key ingredient in the diet of the Cypriot citizens. It was made in most houses, in the sheepfolds of the farmers or casual cheese dairies, exclusively from goat and sheep milk in a practical way. It was, after all, a way to preserve milk.  The breeders of Cyprus relied on halloumi as a source of protein and in many of its villages, the whole community came together and formed cooperatives so that it could make better and more halloumi. The recipes varied from village to village, and each one had its own unique techniques and secret ingredients. Halloumi became so important for the life of the villages, that even several families during the 19th century, had surnames such as: "Halloumas", "Hallouma", "Halloumakis", "Halloumis". In the village of Pyrga of Famagusta, there is an area "Halloumaes".

Halloumi is not just a product of Cyprus but is part of the cultural heritage of the place since its preparation is directly linked to the traditional rural life and social solidarity that characterizes even today the villages of Cyprus.

To this day, quantities of halloumi are produced traditionally in small family cheese dairies that are scattered throughout Cyprus. However, the largest quantities are produced in large modern dairies, in which, with the application of modern technology, the process has been standardized, automated and the quality has stabilized.

Halloumi today

Halloumi is the second most important export product of Cyprus with quantities reaching the value of over €250 million per year. Exports of the product follow a continuous upward trend with main export destinations in the United Kingdom, Greece, Sweden, Germany, Australia and the United States of America.

"ΧΑΛΛΟΥΜΙ-HALLOUMI" is registered as a Community Collective Trademark in the European Union and as a Certified Trademark in Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Oman, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.  

The use of the Trademark is governed by specific Regulations, which presuppose, among other things, that the production of the product is carried out in Cyprus by an approved user, based on strict production, marking and origin specifications.

An indisputable presumption of the importance of Halloumi for Cyprus is the application which was submitted in July 2014 for the registration of the name "Halloumi" (Halloumi) and Hellim in the European Commission as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). A relevant decision of the European Commission is expected within the year.

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