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It’s now well-known that the sun-baked island of Cyprus produces exceptional indigenous gourmet products, many of which are already extremely popular abroad. This global awareness of Cypriot food and drink is due to both the country’s fantastic tradition in food manufacturing, and the careful implementation of a targeted export promotion strategy led by the Cyprus Ministry of Energy, Commerce & Industry.
Cyprus has its own niche in the marketplace with quality, flavour, traceability, tradition and authenticity being the main characteristics. Importers should be aware that great importance is placed upon flexibility and that many of the products made on the island can be tailored to the demands of the customer.
The export market potential for food from Cyprus is broad. As well as appealing to the Cypriot community abroad, and customers with established tastes for the island’s food, the products have proven appeal for customers of supermarkets, delicatessens, food halls and independent retailers who are looking for products which are tasty and different.
Snacks, bakery and frozen products
Cyprus exports some fantastic snacks, frozen and bakery products, including delicious koupes - bulgur croquettes filled with mince meat or mushrooms, tasty pittas and Rolini - small, tubular bites available in traditional flavours. Also available are bite-sized puff pastries in a variety of sweet and savoury varieties, flavoured bread rolls and Bourekia filled with fresh unsalted Anari cheese, mixed with sugar and dusted with icing sugar.
With groves aplenty, Cyprus’ olive oils, including organic varieties, are already recognised as top quality premium products, celebrated for their superior flavour and rich golden colour, thanks to the country’s unique climate and fertile soils. Cypriot black and green olives, from native Cyprus olive trees, have a reputation for being among the finest in the world and this extends to the oils they make.
Traditional meat products
The island’s cold meats, often marinated in dried coriander, seeds and local wine before being dried and smoked, offer meat counters something deliciously different. Among the local smoked delicacies produced on the island are Sheftalia (ground pork or lamb sausage, mixed with onions, parsley and wrapped in caul fat), Lountza (pork loin) and Hiromeri (back leg of pork) Pitsilias, Posirti (bacon), traditional smoked sausages (made from rich red wine and aromatic spices) and Pastourmas (peppered beef sausage).
Dried nuts and fruit
Dry roasted and raw nuts, nut brittle bars and packs of dried fruit, including dried figs, prunes, cranberries, mango and dates are all very popular with islanders and exporters. Cyprus nut producers place great importance on the procurement of the best quality raw materials, which are subjected to strict quality control throughout the preparation procedure.
Delicious traditional Cypriot biscuits are of particular interest to specialist fine food. Typically flavoured with ingredients synonymous with Cyprus, such as aniseed, tahini, sesame seeds, olive oil, cinnamon, almonds and raisins, they are attractively packaged and offer a truly tempting and exotic alternative.
Herbs and tea
Climate and altitude contribute to making Cyprus successful in the production of premium herbs and tea. Such is the island’s suitability for growing herbs, delicious teas of most varieties are now being offered including anise, sage, nettle, marjoram, spearmint, basil, lavender, chamomile and many more.
Freshly-picked apples, oranges, lemons, peaches, grapes and grapefruits go into the Cypriot fruit juices, smoothies and concentrates available to the export market, while Zivania, Cyprus’ unique, clear alcoholic beverage, distilled on the island, has a growing reputation.
Winemaking in Cyprus stretches some 6,000 years into the past and producers, large and small, agree it is the country’s indigenous varieties that offer the most potential for quality wines with a point of difference. Cyprus’ island status means it has never had Phylloxera so it has kept its local varieties like Xynisteri, Mavro and Maratheftiko that grow nowhere else. Also, ‘new’ old varieties are being rediscovered all the time in amongst the ancient vineyards. Yiannoudi, Morokanella, Spourtiko, Promara and others are so new they haven’t made it into the “Wine Grapes” bible yet. Of course, one cannot miss the one world-famous Cypriot wine, the sweet dark Commandaria, the oldest named wine still in production and still made by methods documented in 800BC.
Traditional spoon sweets of Cyprus are typically flavoured with the fragrant plants that grow in the region – sweet fig, rose water, lemons, almonds, carob, bergamot and masticha.
Other traditional products include Soutzoukos (grape rolls) and Loukoumia Yeroskipou (Cyprus delights), traditional sweets available in a range of 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. Carob also features as a key Cypriot product carob syrup, pastelaki (peanut brittle), carob chocolate and carob powder.
A comprehensive directory of exporters can be found on the Cyprus High Commission Trade Centre in London website: cyprustrade.com