This traditional cheese was given PDO status in April last year, which means it can only be produced in Cyprus according to strict criteria, to prevent imitators around the world from copying the product.
According to Euronews, the farmers claim that there had been a lack of production audits, resulting in ingredients such as powdered milk being used to make the cheese.
Due to Halloumi’s PDO status, the cheese can only be produced from the milk of local goats and sheep breeds.
The farmers also protested about the dire state of their industry, calling for further government subsidies.
Main roads around the presidential palace in the capital city Nicosia had to be closed due to the smoke from the burning hay and the hundreds of litres of spilt milk.
The head of the goat herders’ association, Panayiotis Constandinou, said the delays and lack of checks on production were unacceptable.
The protest followed a statement by the agriculture minister, Costas Kadis, in which he said that sheep and goat farmers were “in a very difficult situation” as milk was being sold at prices that were lower than production costs.
Demanding to see President Nicos Anastasiades, protestors said animal feed prices had seen a 115% increase. However, sheep and goat farmers were not receiving more money for the milk they supplied to cheese producers, Euronews reported.
Livestock farmers also warned that given the large increases in oil, electricity, fertiliser and other consumable prices, it was only a matter of time before their livestock units had to close down.
Following the protest, the issue was discussed in the Cypriot parliament, with Kadis announcing that recent checks by commerce ministry officers showed that certain samples deviated from the specifications for halloumi production.
He said the agriculture ministry would collaborate with the ministry of commerce to carry out checks.