How the Halloumi conquered the UK

October 7, 2013

There was a recent article on the BBC webpage about Halloumi and how this special kind of white cheese has conquered the United Kingdom. As it is reported the well-known Halloumi cheese had passed beyond the point of being an ethnic food and it is now considered to be a basic component of the English barbeque.

We have written several articles about Halloumi and how this special kind of white cheese can be combined with every meal and can be cooked in many ways to satisfy every taste and desire. White cheese is a basic component of the Mediterranean Diet.

It is noted that in Cyprus, the homeland of Halloumi, the average consumption of Halloumi is around 8 Kg (18lbs) per year but as the statistics show, the British seem to be consuming more Halloumi than any other country, outside Cyprus off course, with Sweden being in the second in the list. It has be noted that 10 years ago Halloumi cheese was unknown to most British citizens and was served only at several Cypriot restaurants, mainly in London or at places were Cypriot immigrants could be found.

In the BBC report there is a mention about the big supermarket chains in UK, like Tesco, and that these chains offer 6 different varieties of Halloumi cheese. It is worth noting that sales of white cheese have increased by 35% in 2012 over 2011 in all stores of the chain, while during the same period the sales of the Halloumi have increased by 132%! In another supermarket chain, Waitrose, the sales of Halloumi have increased by 104%!


This makes one wonder: Where is this increase of demand for this white Halloumi cheese attributed to? What made people switch to this all-purpose white cheese? A reporter of Daily Telegraph’s food section gives the explanation. According to this reporter the increased demand for the Cypriot white cheese is due to the following three reasons:

  1. The love of the British for the Mediterranean cuisine and a gradual switch of part of the British population to the Mediterranean diet
  2. The desire of the British to try and taste new foods and
  3. The influence of the television chefs, when during their food presentations they include Halloumi in many of their recipes.

It should be noted that Halloumi cheese has been included in many recipes which are not even Mediterranean recipes and they are part of the fusion cuisine and this makes it even more attractive and for this reason it has become part of the menu of many British restaurant chains. (You can find many Halloumi recipes and we have a few listed on our site.)

The basic reasons for the success of Halloumi, always according to BBC, are:  the ease and variety of its use as well as the fact that it can be stored for a long time in the refrigerator. Both

One Cypriot restaurant owner mentioned that he sells about 60Kg (130lbs) of cooked Halloumi per month at his restaurant and this is because he can use Halloumi cheese to make a variety of foods and to include it in many dishes. Most of the restaurants guests ask for Halloumi and they have a preference in the way it is cooked, some like it grilled and others fried. He also mentioned that demand for Halloumi increased over the years at his restaurants in the USA and Dubai as well. He concludes by stating that Halloumi has a unique taste and you cannot compare it with any other kind of cheese! Another British-Cypriot restaurateur has mentioned that Halloumi is one of the most popular appetizers and one out of three customers asks for it!

The BBC report, also mentions that the Cypriot producers, following the increased demand for Halloumi, are now joining forces to exploit this demand with an initiative to register Halloumi within the European Union, EU, as product of protected designation of origin, PDO. Once this is done there will be protection from foreign competition and Halloumi will be protected and will only be able to be produced within Cyprus. It should be noted here that the traditional Halloumi cheese is made from sheep or goat milk but in the absence of a registered standard, there are variations of the product with the use of cow, sheep or goat milk.

Several questions may arise from this BBC report on Halloumi. The first has to do with the cheese itself and whether the increased demand is purely based on the quality and uniqueness of the product and the second question is whether the British have understood the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and the success of the Halloumi cheese is an indication of the adoption of the Med diet. It should be noted that consumption of white cheese is among those in the high or frequent category, as depicted in the Med diet pyramid, with all the known benefits.

There are indeed attempts and a continuous campaign by various circles in UK to promote a healthy living style and they are attempting to do this though education. The cartoon heroes, food dudes, are just one example of this effort.

Andrea Aurelio
About the author

Andrea Aurelio adopted the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean way of living after evaluating a series of diets and realizing that the Mediterranean diet is a proven diet and the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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