The secret is well and truly out when it comes to Cypriot staple halloumi, the cheese having made a name for itself around the world.
But demand reaches new heights – last week the Cypriot government signed a protocol allowing the export of dairy products to China, where the cheese is becoming more popular – coupled with a shortage of sheep and goats, the prospect of growing business is also a growing concern among farmers.
“It’s difficult enough servicing demand in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Australia,” said Alexis Pantziaros, a dairy farmer outside Larnaca, in an interview with The Guardian.
“If the Chinese learn about it too, it will become impossible to keep up.”
Traditionally made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk, due to a limited supply, Cypriot authorities have been forced to increase the proportion of cow’s milk, up from 50 to 80 per cent – a controversial decision.
“Not all of us have sheep and goats, and to meet standards you need them to make it,” said Andreas Andreou, director of the industry department at Cyprus’ chamber of commerce.
“It’s only logical that if we go on like this there won’t be enough to go round.”
Pantziaros revealed the situation is so dire he has been left with no other option but to import sheep from Italy and Denmark to keep up with demand.
“There just isn’t enough milk,” he said.
“In summer, when temperatures get up to 42C, the animals produce very little. It’s very difficult to get them pregnant. In such heat they don’t even want to eat!”