Rich in culture and cuisine, Cyprus is now making its mark in the food industry. The favourable climate is of course a major contributing factor in the huge variety of food that the island produces.
Cypriot food manufacturers have invested in the latest technology, enabling them to produce value-added processed as well as fast frozen food. In addition, the introduction of vigorous policies on food safety has helped promote premium quality produce. Increased interest in health means that corners cannot be cut at any stage of the production process.
Exports of fresh and processed food in 2020 accounted for 33% of total domestic exports. Nevertheless, exports of foodstuff, including fresh produce, to the British market represent around 85% of the total exports to the UK, proving the importance of the sector in trade between the two countries. Halloumi has been the leading export product to the UK in the last years, representing around 75% of the total exports in 2020.
As well as appealing to the Cypriot community in Britain and to British customers with established tastes for the island’s food, the products have proven appeal for customers of supermarkets, delicatessen, farm shops, food halls and independent retailers who are looking for products which are tasty and different. The unique range of foods available from Cyprus fills all these requirements. It’s because of the size of this market that Cyprus has developed reliable, efficient and competitive export facilities.
The Cyprus Trade Centre invites British importers and distributors for an all-expenses paid visit to the island, including travel and accommodation, to explore the possibility of trading with Cypriot exporters.
The main foodstuff available for exporting are the following:
As every country has its own traditional culinary speciality, Cyprus is renowned for its Halloumi cheese. For centuries now, Halloumi is being prepared according to a traditional recipe, passed on from generation to generation. Halloumi is a registered trademark as a Cyprus product indicating that it can only be produced in Cyprus.
Halloumi consists of a mixture of goat or sheep milk and cow milk its special characteristics include its unique folded shape as well as the fresh mint leaves added. Consumers appreciate its unique character in flavour, aroma, texture and versatile character, as it may well be eaten raw but also cooked, fried or grilled. Whichever the method of cooking, Halloumi retains its shape, with its outward appearance turning into a golden-brown colour, while its inside texture softens significantly but does not melt.
Halloumi is nowadays produced in technologically advanced dairy industries approved and registered according to EU Regulations. Dairy industries are also certified with the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and enforce the ISO, a quality system ensuring maximum quality and hygiene.
Today Halloumi is consumed in over 40 countries, in all 5 continents. Its exports are steadily growing as a result of increased penetration in existing markets and with the introduction of new international markets. Exports of Halloumi to the United Kingdom only in 2020 were valued at over €120 million.
British retailers are now discovering that Cyprus also exports some fantastic snacks and bakery, products which are sufficiently tasty and original to excite their interest. From coiled and stuffed pitas to pasta with a difference and lots of high quality frozen foods to tempt jaded palates, a unique combination of taste and convenience awaits the British retailer.
While people nowdays spent more time away from home, it is not surprising that Cyprus has developed a great number of interesting and toothsome snacks to keep hunger at bay throughout the day, providing exciting alternatives to the run of the mill croissants and rolls of the standard Continental breakfast eaten in the UK.
There’s plenty to choose from, too, whatever time of day the snack is taken. Tasty pitas are made in a coil and are available filled with local cheese, cream and with spinach grown on the island. Rolini are another snack whose appeal to British customers is likely to be broad. These small, tubular snacks are also available in spinach and cheese, cream and cheese varieties and also filled with olives. Puff pastries enjoy a huge popularity and among the formats which can be easily exported to British retailers are bite-sized pastries in apple, almond, cheese, cheese with ham, Halloumi and sausage varieties. From crispy breadsticks, croutons, bags of wheat and rye rusks, olive rolls and raisin toasts, to crackers, rice cakes and bread rolls flavoured with orange, anise and honey, many of these attractive products have already proven popular with British tastes.
Flavoursome fillings are very popular with Cypriots and British consumers can now find out why. Of particular note to people wishing to ring the changes with their pasta is Cyprus’s ravioli, which may be filled with Halloumi cheese or spinach and cheese. Pasta is also available in all the usual shapes, from fusilli and macaroni to rigatoni and vermicelli.
And if that taste is for sweet things, then there is plenty here to satisfy that demand too. The island produces a wide variety of sweet biscuits, from familiar digestives to orange, hazelnut and chocolate creams. Retailers looking for quality nut products will find plenty to choose from too. The island produces all sorts of nut and dried fruit products, often pleasingly packed in trays. Top-quality examples made from local island produce include dry-roasted nuts, brittle bars and packs of dried fruit.
Products can be imported from Cyprus both as ambient products in attractive, modern packaging and frozen. Along with coiled pitas and tubular rolini and pastry, Cypriot products all ready to furnish British freezers include everything from pizzas and pizza bases, ham, beef and chicken burgers to all kinds of finger food bites and crepes. Everything ready to be boiled or baked and served within minutes.
Cyprus is particularly renowned for its high quality olive oils. With groves aplenty, its oils are already recognised as top quality premium products, celebrated amongst foodies and chefs for their superior flavour, thanks to the country’s unique climate and superior soils. Cypriot black and green olives, from native Cyprus olive trees, have a reputation for being among the finest in the world.
The olive tree co-existed with the inhabitants of Cyprus from the Neolithic period (6th millennium BC) to the present day.
The cultivation of the olive tree began during the 2nd millennium BC but the earliest evidence of production of olive oil on the island goes back to the end of the 13th century BC, the period to which the oldest olive presses that have been discovered in settlements and temples date back.
Cypriot olive plantations currently occupy 13,000ha and the number of trees exceeds 3,000,000. It is estimated that Cyprus produces from 7,000 to 12,000 tons of olive oil per year.
Companies producing olive oil in Cyprus are under particular supervision and control of specialized international companies and institutes issuing quality certificates, which guarantees the highest standards of Cypriot products. Cypriot extra virgin olive oil is well known for having a magnificent gold colour, influenced by the perfect climatic and soil conditions of Cyprus. In the past decade an increasing number of Cypriot olive oil manufacturers have been producing organic olive oil and promoting it with fascinating branding, expanding the already great variety of Cypriot olive oil.
The commercial fishery sector in Cyprus comprises principally marine capture fishery and aquaculture although there is some recreational fishing providing good angling for locals and visitors. With limited fresh water availability, aquaculture in Cyprus mainly refers to marine with open sea cage culture used. After some years of research, the first marine fish fattening unit, which used land based coastal installations, commenced operations in 1988. The first commercial fish farm started production in Cyprus in 1991.
Today, the commercial fishery sector of Cyprus is consisted of offshore cage fish farms, marine hatcheries and shrimp farms. The latter adopt unique biotechnology techniques and produce approximately 30% of the total production from aquaculture in the Mediterranean, a significant business.
The main species of marine fish farmed on a commercial basis are the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), European sea bass (Dicentrachus labrax), and Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) with significant quantities of Sharpsnout sea bream (Diplodus puntazzo), Shi drum (Umbrina cirrosa), Japanese sea bream (Pagrus major) and Red porgy (Pagrus pagrus). The species currently produced and sold in most quantity are sea bream and sea bass. Freshwater fish cultured in Cyprus on a commercial basis includes rainbow trout.
The fisheries sector is an important one and, as said, a developing element in the economy especially of several coastal areas, since its significant business potentials generate substantial income and work opportunities, thus contributing to the social and economic welfare of the local residents.
Cyprus produces a variety of traditional products that have been passed on from generation to generation up until today. These products are still produced in large quantities, available for consumption in the local market as well as exporting to international markets.
Traditional products of Cyprus include:
- Soutzoukos (grape rolls), produced with almonds or walnuts sewed onto cotton thread and dipped into palouzes (thick like sweet jelly made from grape must and flour) several times for a number of days and then left to dry and take its final form.
- Loukoumia Yeroskipou (Cyprus delights), traditional sweet product available in a range of diverse flavours including, rose, mandarin, orange, vanilla and chocolate. Loukoumi Yeroskipou is the first traditional food product of Cyprus to receive an approval as a Product of Geographic Indication under EU regulations.
- Homemade spoon sweets, produced with natural ingredients, mainly fruits and sugar. They are called spoon sweets because of their size and way of serving. These sweets include walnut, apricot, bergamot and watermelon sweets.
- Carob products have carob as their main ingredient and examples of these products are carob syrup, pastelaki (peanut brittle), carob chocolate and carob powder.
The range of quality products is broad and Cypriot manufacturers pride themselves on offering great value and high standards of product and service. Traditional products of Cyprus are still produced using the same traditional methods preserving the exciting range of exotic flavours, but new technology has come into use so as to improve quality, reduce cost and maintain hygiene standards in order to be able to compete in international markets.
Cyprus produces a number of fine cold and cooked meat products using traditional and authentic Cypriot recipes. Pork is the key ingredient in producing most of the important traditional cold and cooked meats, often marinated in red wine, herbs and spices.
Traditional meats of Cyprus include:
- Loukanika, smoked pork sausage, made from rich Cypriot red wine and aromatic spices.
- Sheftalia, a kind of ground pork or lamb sausage, mixed with fine chopped onions and parsley and wrapped in caul fat. Shaped like little balls, they are often eaten from a skewer.
- Lountza, pork fillet can be served cold, grilled or fried.
- Hoiromeri, matured and preserved leg of pork.
- Pastourmas, peppered beef sausage.
- Posirti, smoked bacon in cured wine.
Nowadays meat products of Cyprus are prepared at modern processing plants operating at HACCP certification and production standards, under strict conditions for food hygiene and safety. The continuous quality control, modernisation and automatisation of production and packing procedures ensure the top quality of the products.
For a comprehensive list of food exporters, please visit our Directory of Exporters.