/ Food & Drink

Halloumi shortage: what will you barbecue instead?

Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that halloumi has become a staple of the British summertime. And with reports that there’s a shortage, how will you survive without it?

Halloumi is flying off supermarket shelves faster than it can be replaced by suppliers, according to media reports this week.

The Cypriot cheese – made from sheep and goat’s milk, and renowned for its salty taste and squeaky sound – has become a firm BBQ favourite among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike in recent years.

But halloumi suppliers in Cyprus are struggling to keep up with growing demand.

The UK’s main halloumi supplier in the Mediterranean country said they’re having to send ’emergency supplies’ to the UK by road rather than sea to fill the supermarket glut.

One plucky person took to Twitter to auction off their halloumi to the highest bidder…

But BBC Good Food clearly didn’t get the memo about the shortage, which may leave some football fans in the lurch…

Cheese crisis

Demand for the cheese has been growing steadily in recent years. Last October, Waitrose revealed it had seen a 24% increase in demand on the previous year.

But supply has been limited since 2015, when Cypriot and Turkish halloumi were granted a Protected Designation of Origin status by the EU – meaning would-be suppliers elsewhere can’t call their cheese halloumi.

And sheep and goat’s milk – the principle ingredients of halloumi – are produced in much smaller yields than cow’s milk.

However, a Scottish university may have a solution to our halloumi woes. Scientists from Edinburgh University are reportedly helping Cypriot farmers increase their milk yields.

So all may not be lost for halloumi lovers…

BBQ alternatives

Until then, what else can we barbecue instead? Few cheeses hold a similarly high melting point like halloumi, so you may have to look beyond dairy products altogether.

Halloumi is loved by meat lovers as well as vegetarians, so, if you’re a carnivore and missing the Mediterranean vibes of halloumi, why not try some sardines or squid on the BBQ? Or a lamb kofta?

For vegetarians, what about that old classic of vegetable skewers? And for those who really want to show off, what about chargrilling aubergines and making your own baba ganoush?

Are you a halloumi fan? Or do you think it is just a middle-class fad food? What will you be cooking this weekend on your barbecue?


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268209Milky’s Halum British halloumi style cheese250g
3.6 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
The cheese you grill. Made from British milk. Fabulous fried and gorgeous grilled. Suitable for vegetarians.Full fat semi hard cheese

Never tried it. Quite happy with grilled Cheddar. Shortage? Eat something else 🙂 Buy British.

TeaBone says:
30 June 2018

Have tried it. BBQ’d halloumi beats cheddar. Both are nice.

No halloumi in the supermarket? Eat something else.

Buy the best value. Support British where you can,

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Why not make Halloumi in the British then?

This from 2013 is interesting though like so much content talks in percentage increases which tends to mean starting from a low base figure to produce high percentage growth figures that look exciting.

Given we are not advised in tonnage terms of the amount imported, or the amount made in the UK it is difficult to know if this is somewhat hyped. For comparison annual UK production is around 440,000 tonnes and a breakdown is here: dairy.ahdb.org.uk/market-information/dairy-sales-consumption/cheese-market/

My research shows around 19,000 tonnes halloumi/hellim exported in 2014 taking the figures for both parts of Cypus. The UK is the main export market taking 36% in that year.

An old article with recipes and English supplier details and production:

From an article 2007 some background on the cheese.
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese made principally in Cyprus from sheep or goat milk or mixture of the two. The raw milk is coagulated as for Feta cheese. The blocks of the cheese (10 × 10 × 3 cm) are heated at 92–95°C in the whey extracted during draining. Subsequently, they are folded in half and sprinkled with a mixture of coarse salt and finely chopped mint (Papademas and Robinson, 2000, 2001, 2002; Robinson, 1991; Abd El-Salam and Alichanidis, 2004). The fresh product has a characteristic aroma that is unique to this cheese. If not sold immediately, the cheese is stored in salted whey (10–12% NaCl). Due to increasing demands for exports, pasteurized cow’s milk is now used for its production and the flavor of the various cheese types vary greatly (Papademas and Robinson, 2001).

Oscar – Not knowing which European countries you have visited makes it difficult to reply. I do know that Germany and Sweden are large halloumi importing European country. Sweden having a small population on a per head basis they may eat more than us.

The barbacue culture is probably better developed there. There is the possibility that most of it goes to the restaurant trade and that it is otherwise only available in speciality shops. Alternatively Swedish supermarkets have not been checked out yet!

This is an old article but very full on detail. Usefully it quotes 2006 as 5500 tonnes exported and AFAIR it is more like 19000 tonnes now.


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There was plenty in the chiller cabinet in my local Sainsbury’s yesterday.

Is that –
a. because it’s a popular product and they keep well stocked?
b. because it is not very popular and they are struggling to shift it?
c. because there’s no real shortage and stocks are similar to other continental cheeses?

Perhaps there is a new company within the commercial arm of the stable – Which?CheeseAdvisers Ltd – that gets (undisclosed) commission from pointing customers towards certain product providers, and the PETROU BROS DAIRY PRODUCTS LTD is in need of a boost?

There’s plenty in the local Tesco too. I will buy some next time I’m shopping, so that I can feel more involved with the discussion. I’ll feel cheesed off if it’s out of stock.

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This might guide your decision, wavechange.

6.) Halloumi
Halloumi is another goat’s or sheep milk cheese that originated in Cyprus. It has low lactose content. Do check labels as some modern manufacturers make this cheese with cow’s milk therefore regulating it out of the healthiest category.

It is to be noted though that every 100g of commercially available halloumi contains approximately 24 grams of fat and 17 grams of saturated fat (2).

This definitely makes it a slightly fat heavy cheese. Similarly, this cheese also has a higher sodium content which is approximately 3 grams of sodium in every 100 grams.”

It is a well-known fact that BBQ aficionados will eat any old rubbish so long as it smoulders in the open air for long enough. I think showmanship is the dominant objective, not healthy eating. Perhaps I should get out more.

…once, again it’s good to see W?C tackling the pressing consumer issues of today…

Now, where did I put my glass of pink champagne…

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Maybe it’s just a way of engaging with more people in the hope that they will become interested in consumer issues and perhaps become members. It couldn’t be that simple, could it?

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Yes addiction to anything is bad but I can see a positive side to social media too. Through publicity on Facebook and Twitter our society has gained a great deal of publicity and when this turns into people attending events and giving us money to support our work, I like it.

I’m no enthusiast for barbecues but perhaps we could do one at our next event. I now realise we will need plenty of halloumi…..

Buy your Halloumi from the wholeseller

Looking down this (short) list of contributors, and guessing at the age profile, it does not seem very successful in attracting or engaging with more people.

Now, if Which? were seen to be really effective in constructively and objectively tackling serious consumer issues (Halloumi is not one) and achieving sensible outcomes, maybe more people would join the cause.

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A plan? A long time coming 🙁 .

I believe that younger people are just as serious as older ones when it comes to looking at issues that matter. I do not think “toning down ” or “simpler presentation” is appropriate – rather an insult to their intelligence, perhaps. However, for Which? to become more “powerful” as a champion of consumers I believe it has to attract a much more diverse membership. At present, that membership is only a little over 1% of the adult population, hardly representative.

I’d like to see Which? grow substantially, to include many more younger members and to concentrate more on serious consumer matters and see them through to proper conclusions. This means more affordable subscriptions, building credibility for its mission, and achieving better results. Maybe a change later this year will help that.

Halloumi is not the right place for this, though! If anyone still used “Help us shape the future of Which?” that might do – but it seems pretty dead. So maybe, if we are interested, The Lobby is the fallback?

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It’s only a guess, but I think Which? Conversation attracts large numbers of younger and middle aged correspondents when it puts up a topic relevant to their lives and promotes it via social media. Halloumi is not one of those. The problem Which? seems to have is generating continuing engagement. It would be interesting to know how many [either numbers or percentage] register or sign in via Facebook or Twitter and post more than twice on any given topic. A cynic might also enquire how many such comments say something original or just bloat the statistics.

The halloumi shortage outrage joins balsamic vinegar anxiety as one of those irrelevant middle-class issues that metro-centric organisations occasionally delve into to gratify their well-off subscribers.

Convo is lucky because our community ranges drastically in age, which is always great to see what consumer issues are affecting different demographics. It’s interesting to see the response to this Convo, and I appreciate not everyone is a big fan of halloumi so it doesn’t seem to be an issue for all of our community. Honest feedback is always helpful for us when creating our content plans.

@awhittle, afternoon Alex 🙂 May I ask how you know the age range of those who contribute to Convos?

And what other demographic knowledge is being acquired through Which Conversation? I think we should be told. Many contributors do not register which makes me even more suspicious.

Alex acknowledges that the alleged halloumi shortage “doesn’t seem to be an issue for all of our community“; well so far it’s not an issue for any of it.

As TeaBone [who prefers halloumi to cheddar] says: “No halloumi in the supermarket? Eat something else“.

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Regular contributors to Convos will, by now, have disclosed so much information about themselves that any clever software could build up very accurate profiles. That is of our own doing. I wonder at duncan still posting, knowing how wary he is of spies on the net 🙂 And I wonder sometimes at the rest of us putting so much faith in Which?’s ability to keep our persona confidential from rogues. Let’s hope the commercial side of Which? does not think selling this would boost their income (and bonuses).

I don’t mind anyone guessing my age, but as I have not disclosed it here (but have in Connect surveys for example, and no doubt when I joined Which? many years ago), and as many contributors do not register, I have to be concerned at how Which? acquires such information and, as John asks, what other information have they gleaned?

This is a Freedom of Information request 🙂

Artificial Intelligence can easily become compound ignorance.

I suppose those of us who are free to converse in the day-time are giving away too much about our ages and lifestyles. It doesn’t take a genius [artificial or otherwise] to work out what we do and where we shop and roughly where we live and whether or not we are in debt or have a parking ticket or some other consumer problem.


Thanks duncan, I appreciate that. 😀

In reality, I am not aware of any information that has been gleaned about me having any real affect on my life. I receive few targeted adverts; I generally ignore them (unless I do consider them relevant – always possible); I have not yet been scammed – hope this does not provide ant encouragement – nor do I get many nuisance phone calls. The MoD has not muzzled me for criticising the defence budget and its incompetence. Like most people I am far too unimportant to bother with. 🙁

So I’ll no doubt continue to provide contributions to Convos, whether some like it or not. 🙂

This has got absolutely nothing to do with Halloumi, nor any other cheese, nor barbecues. So I’ll implore the moderators to remove this post and let the important debate of a Halloumi shortage continue uninterrupted.

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Hey all, it’s not quite as technical and secretive as that. We can estimate demographic visits using analytics tools but I know that we have a wide range of community members because of the information which they choose to share with us publically. Not only do some people share their age with us when commenting on Convos but also from the information they provide we can assume their general age range. For example, some people talk about their young family while others talk about their pension. Assuming their age is obviously not guaranteed to be accurate. I know our community ranges in age because I get to read all of the comments 🙂

Also, consumers are almost anyone (if not everyone) of any age so it’s really important for us to keep this in mind when creating content. We’re always looking at ways to improve and expand our community and we might find that some community members really like halloumi.

Thanks for the information @awhittle 🙂

What would be nice to know would be the backgrounds of the people who work on our behalf in Which? You have published bits when people join the Convo team, but what about other key personnel who lead different departments, author articles, organise surveys, campaign?

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DL ” Now thats a bit of a “contradiction in terms ” for Which “killing two diametrical opposite birds with one stone ” but knowing how good Which boardroom Advertising execs. are they should have a plan already.”

If I did not know you better I would think it was sarcasm. .

I have made the point over the last decade that there needs to be a two-tier presentation to cover the divergent needs of those who wish for a quick and simple article and those thoughtful types who require a more rounded detailed piece.

The biggest danger for Which? has been the simplification [dumbing down] process has left it wide-open to attacks that it is an expensive consumer-lite body with interests income from commercial companies. The thoughtful supporters are the ones who being short-changed in expectations are likely to leave and become critics.

Having said that the last magzine I had did seem improved under the new editor and I hope for more from the new CEO.

I love Halloumi!!!

Halloumi definitely isn’t on my list for a BBQ. The only cheese I have is the plastic-y American cheese for the burgers. Not sure it is technically cheese but I love it on a burger or hotdog. I can imagine it is a good alternative for vegetarians.

I recently got introduced to halloumi (late to the party, I know) – it’s ok, not my favourite cheese by any means.

Very little of the Halloumi available in UK supermarkets seems to be the real deal. Checking what is available online:
Ocado stock 9 Halloumi of which 6 contain cow’s milk
Tesco stock 4 of which all contain cow’s milk
Sainsbury’s stock 5 of which 4 contain cow’s milk
Waitrose stock 6 of which 5 contain cow’s milk
Morrisons stock 4 of which 3 contain cow’s milk
Asda stock 2 of which 2 contain cow’s milk + another trying to pass off as Halloumi

Only 5 out of 30 are traditional Halloumi.

Feta is another cheese that very often contains cow’s milk especially if it is a catering pack.

Many people who are allergic to cow’s milk can eat goat and sheep’s cheese. Very often menus will state goat’s cheese, but when we ask to check the packaging, it normally contains cow’s milk.

By sheer coincidence when we went over to a son’s for dinner last night he presented us with chicken breast topped with grilled Halloumi – my first encounter. He had bought it from a local Waitrose where there was a vast stock.

It was a nice meal in good company, but I must say the cheese was nothing to write home about.
I’d have preferred Parmesan…….

This Convo could be just Episode 1 of 1831 in a Cheese soap – https://www.cheese.com/

However, it may need a lot of moderation:
Talking Cheese
When someone is insulting you or talking behind your back trying to start stuff with you.
Closely related to talking smack
Bro: “Man, you’re such a ******!”
You: “Why you gotta be talking cheese, man!? You wanna fight?”

There is so much to learn.