Greek and Cypriot varieties are now Britain's fastest growing cheeses

3 Sep 2012

Greek and Cypriot cheeses such as feta and halloumi have finally shed their speciality food image to become the UK’s fastest growing cheese variety.

 

Greek and Cypriot cheeses such as feta and halloumi have finally shed their speciality food image to become the UK’s fastest growing cheese variety.

Until a few years ago Greek and Cypriot cheeses were still generally the preserve of urban foodies and were sold mainly in delicatessens and larger supermarkets.

But their growing popularity as versatile cooking cheeses that can be used in many dishes has helped endear them to more British shoppers.

In the last year sales of halloumi have soared by 35 per cent while feta has grown by 15 per across the UK market according to independent retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel.

At Tesco demand has been so strong that it has doubled its range in the last year to 15 cheeses.  It recently added a new range called Yamas which includes a mild feta, smoked feta, Halloumi burger slices and Graviera, said to be Greece’s answer to Gruyere.

Among the strongest growers in the last year at Tesco are:

·         Tesco Finest  Halloumi – sales up by 132 per cent

·         Halloumi with pepper – sales up 34 per cent

·         Tesco Finest Barrel Aged Feta – sales up 26 per cent

Tesco cheese buyer Ashleigh MacFarlane said: “We started selling one type of feta and one type of halloumi about 10 years ago in our larger stores. The majority of sales would come during the summer months as they were then mainly bought to go in salads.

“But demand has really been boosted by celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay who have featured these cheeses on their TV shows and in their recipe books.

“These programmes have helped demonstrate the versatility of these cheeses which are now often used in cooking to make pizzas, pies and lasagne as well as making great toppings for pasta dishes.”

Another reason for the strong growth is the popularity of Greece and Cyprus as holiday destinations which are visited by more than two million Brits each year. Many people return home with a taste for the foods they tried on holiday.

Ashleigh MacFarlane added: “We are particularly proud to be stocking Graviera which is the second most popular cheese in Greece but which has never been sold in the UK before.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

Feta

Feta is a Greek soft white cheese made with goat’s or sheep milk that is salted and cured in a brine solution.  The name Feta comes from the Italian word Fetta, meaning slice. It was introduced to the Greek language in the 17th century.

In 2002 Feta was given ‘protected designation of origin’ status which limits production of the cheese to Greece.

Halloumi

Halloumi originates from Cyprus and is a semi-hard, unripened brined cheese that is traditionally made from unpateurised sheep’s and goat’s milk. It has a high melting point making it perfect for grilling or frying.

Graviera

Graviera is a Greek cheese which is mainly produced on the island of Crete. It is slightly sweet with a burnt caramel flavour.

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