Cyprus’ agriculture sector has been gaining momentum by offering the international market an ever-expanding range of quintessentially Mediterranean fruits and vegetables. Today, there are more than 30 fresh-produce exporters in Cyprus, the majority of which are also agricultural producers – providing a continuity which helps maintain high standards and effective quality control at every stage of the process. Since EU accession in 2004, both primary and secondary exports have had to comply with stringent European phytosanitary standards and quality thresholds. Agricultural products are an important component of the economy, accounting for some 30% of domestic exports.

Fresh produce: includes citrus fruit, grapes, melons, vegetables and aromatic herbs, while a number of agrifood products are making headway in the international market, including fruit and vegetable juices, and meat and fish products. Aquaculture products are the third most important produce in Cyprus, in terms of export value. Specifically, these products are sea bass and sea bream and approximately 65% of the total national production is exported to markets in Middle Eastern countries and the USA. The aquaculture sector represents about 75-80% both in terms of volume and value of the total national fisheries production, and the total national aquaculture value for 2015Fresh produce: includes citrus fruit, grapes, melons, vegetables and aromatic herbs, while a number of agrifood products are making headway in the international market, including fruit and vegetable juices, and meat and fish products. Aquaculture products are the third most important produce in Cyprus, in terms of export value. Specifically, these products are sea bass and sea bream and approximately 65% of the total national production is exported to markets in Middle Eastern countries and the USA. The aquaculture sector represents about 75-80% both in terms of volume and value of the total national fisheries production, and the total national aquaculture value for 2015.

The Cyprus Trade Center deals with issues concerning agricultural products in the following categories:

Halloumi Cheese  |  Wines  | Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

 

Halloumi Cheese

halloumiCyprus’ famous halloumi cheese– made from a blend of goat, sheep and cow’s milk – is perhaps the most internationally renowned of the island’s exports. Distributed to upmarket supermarket chains worldwide, it has unsurprisingly become a runaway success and recently became the second largest export for Cyprus. The name ‘halloumi’ is now registered in the European Union as a Community Collective Trade Mark, meaning that no other product can be marketed within EU borders under this name. It is also registered as a Certification Trade Mark in the UK, US and Jordan, and will soon be registered in other Middle Eastern countries too. The renowned cheese will also be registered as an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which is set to boost the product and its brand appeal, as well as increase dairy production.

To view the main exporters of dairy products, please click here.

 

 Halloumi Cheese  |  Wines  | Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Wines

A Tradition of Viticulture

cyprus wine dionisosA Tradition of ViticultureCypriots know a thing or two about wine – they’ve been in the business since antiquity and boast some of the oldest grape varieties in the world. Recent archaeological excavations revealed that wine was being produced on the island – and probably exported elsewhere in the Mediterranean – as long ago as 3,000BC.

The wine industry has seen much development over the last few decades, with vineyards upgrading and hiring talent to perfect their products to meet consumer demand and better compete in this tough sector. After some difficult years, when the small scale of its production base made it difficult to penetrate big overseas markets, the Cypriot wine industry has now successfully repositioned itself in response to international market trends.

winesToday more than 40 small, regional wineries situated in the hillside villages of the grape-growing regions, produce a variety of characterful wines, many of which are blended with established foreign varieties of grape. The island’s four big wineries – ETKO, KEO, SODAP and LOEL – have also adapted, replanting their vineyards with new international varieties and rediscovering old indigenous ones. Cyprus is now increasingly recognised as an exporter of smaller quantities of a high-quality product for the discerning consumer.Today more than 40 small, regional wineries situated in the hillside villages of the grape-growing regions, produce a variety of characterful wines, many of which are blended with established foreign varieties of grape. The island’s four big wineries – ETKO, KEO, SODAP and LOEL – have also adapted, replanting their vineyards with new international varieties and rediscovering old indigenous ones. Cyprus is now increasingly recognised as an exporter of smaller quantities of a high-quality product for the discerning consumer.

The Cypriot Vineyard: Grape & Varieties

grapesThe vineyards of Cyprus are among the very few vineyards of the world not affected by the vine louse, known as phylloxera, a disease that fell upon the greatest part of Europe's vineyards at the beginning of the 20th century. Having escaped phylloxera, the Cyprus wines are self-sown plants of the European Vitis Vinifera retaining their classic organoleptic characteristics as well as the potential of a long life.

Cyprus displays several native grape varieties, which account for the vast majority of the production, and provide truly unique wines with distinct tastes and aroma profiles. There are approximately 15 indigenous varieties of which the most largely cultivated are the grapes of Xynisteri, Mavro, Ofthalmo and Maratheftiko or Vamvakada. These grapes, that can be truly new and breathtaking alternatives to the varietals that have dominated the market.Cyprus displays several native grape varieties, which account for the vast majority of the production, and provide truly unique wines with distinct tastes and aroma profiles. There are approximately 15 indigenous varieties of which the most largely cultivated are the grapes of Xynisteri, Mavro, Ofthalmo and Maratheftiko or Vamvakada. These grapes, that can be truly new and breathtaking alternatives to the varietals that have dominated the market.


Indigenous Grapes

Xynisteri
Is the prevailing white grape variety of Cyprus with 2,200 hectares planted. It produces excellent light-colored white wine with low alcohol levels (11-11.5% vol.) and low to medium acidity. It is mainly found in the regions of the Akamas Laona, Ambelitis, Vouni Panayias and Pitsilia. Xynisteri wines are not suitable for ageing and must be drunk when young one year at most after production. This is the only other grape, with mavro, that is used for making Commandaria.

Ofthalmo
A red local variety that is cultivated in small quantities (about 170 hectares) scattered all over the Cypriot vineyard  but predominantly in certain areas of the Pitsilia region, such as Agros and Ayios Theodoros, in the Paphos region and in the Wine Villages of Lemessos. This grape can produce wines of light color, distinctive intense aroma and very low acidity which are not ideal for ageing. The regions of Pitsilia and the Wine Villages of Lemessos yield the best quality results.

Mavro
Is a red varietal and dominates the Cypriot vineyard covering 5,700 hectares. It is very productive and characterized by large juicy grapes that make it a superb table variety. Its grapes produce balanced, slightly astringent wines with a weak color and aroma which are not amenable to long-term ageing. The best results come from grapes grown in the mountainous regions of Pitsilia, Laona (Lemesos region), and Afames.The poor barren soils in these areas make for lower productivity but higher concentration, in contrast to lower altitudes and more fertile soils. Until recently, Mavro accounted for over 80% of Cyprus' vineyards. However this percentage has been decreasing year by year as new varieties are imported.

Maratheftiko/Vamvakada
Is a very rare red variety scattered around Cyprus’ vineyards (120 hectares) but most densely concentrated through the mountain regions of Paphos and in Pitsilia, where the variety is known as Vambakada. It can produce rosès and light reds to red wines suitable for ageing. When ripen adequately, it gives high quality wines of intense color and full body with distinctive fruity aromas of cherries and blackberries. Recently, there is a trend to age wines produced from this grape in oak casks. Maratheftiko has a serious propensity to bud loss which limits its productivity and expansion as its is one of the world's few non-hermaphroditic. Its buds are females and have to be planted in mixed vineyards to ensure pollination.

Imported Grapes
Although most of the wine-grapes grown on the island are indigenous varietals, there has been a large variety of grapes imported to the island (approximately 60). Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc constitute the international team of white wines grown in Cyprus which are produced in small quantities and have a characteristic that is essentially Cyprus. Some of the highlights of the red wines imported to Cyprus include Cabernet Franc (France), Cabernet Sauvignon (France), Syrah (Australia), Grenache Noir (France) and Mourvèdre or Mataro (Spain).

Commandaria
commandariaCommandaria is perhaps this is the oldest wine in the world. In fact, no one know how old this Commandaria sweet red wine is. Its fame and tradition goes as far back as the history of the island and it was described as one of the three major sources of wealth: Wine – Copper – Timber.

There is evidence that during the thousand years or more of worshipping Aphrodite with the annual festival and pilgrimages, this very sweet Cyprus wine was one of the special offerings.

Commandaria was described by many writers as Sweet Cypriot Nama – Hesiod, the ancient Greek poet, describes in his Works and Days how this special sweet wine is made “when Orion and Sirius come into mid-heaven, and rosy-fingered Dawn sees Arcturus, cut off the grape-clusters and bring them home. Show them to the sun ten days and ten nights, then cover them over the fire and on the sixth day, draw off into vessels the gifts of joyful Dionysus…”

Its present name dates back to the Middle Ages and the period of the Crusades. Cyprus, being close to the Holy Land, soon attracted the Crusaders and it was Richard Coeur de Lion who landed on the island in 1191, and then sold it to the Order of the Knights Templar. They divided Cyprus into Commanderies and near Limassol, at Kolossi where a famous castle was built, they made their headquarters. Thus the name Commandaria was transferred to the wine produced in the area. They and their successors, the Knights of the Order of St. John, produced this delightful wine in large quantities and exported it to many European and English courts where it became very popular.

In a wine competition organised by the King of France Philippe Augustus, Commandaria was crowned “The King of wines, and the wine of Kings”.

Strict cultivation and production controls ensure continuity of quality and taste. The grapes come from the denominated area of Commandaria, on the eastern slops of Troodos mountain range, making it an “Appellation of origin” wine. Mavro and Xynisteri grow in volcanic soils, poor and thin, thus producing a low yield but of high quality. The overripe grapes are hand picked and then left to dry in the sun, on rooftops, until the water evaporates and the sugar is concentrated in the berries. The grapes are then pressed and the resultant syrup like juice is left to ferment naturally. Over generations of making this wine, the natural yeasts of the region have adapted to the specific nature of the juice, thus the fermentation ceases at precisely the right balance of alcohol and residual grape sugar. The wine is pumped to old oak barrels and left to mature for as long as possible.

To view the main and regional wineries, please click here.

 

Halloumi Cheese  |  Wines  | Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

With its ever widening range of fruit and vegetables, Cyprus has quite justifiably gained a reputation in international markets as "the garden of the Mediterranean". In Cyprus, a wide range of soil types coupled with a number of unique macro-climates, favour the production of a variety of high quality products, produced and packed in up to date packing houses of latest technology, conforming with both European and International standards.

Crops include a full range of citrus produce, available from October to June, white seedless and black grapes exported in the summer and a substantial volume of top quality new potatoes being shipped in winter and early spring. In recent years, a major expansion in out of season salads has been apparent, particularly in specialised items such as coriander, spinach, okra, methi and a wide range of fresh aromatic herbs.

To view the main exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables, please click here.

 

Citrus Fruits

fruits

Cyprus offers a full range of citrus fruit available from October to June, consisting of the popular varietties of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and soft citrus. Citrus production takes place on 54.000 hectares in the south west of the island near Limassol and Paphos, and in the west towards Nicosia - orange orchards cover 1.830 ha, mandarins 2.000 ha, grapefruit 720 ha and lemon groves 850 ha. Cyprus offers a full range of citrus fruit available from October to June, consisting of the popular varietties of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and soft citrus. Citrus production takes place on 54.000 hectares in the south west of the island near Limassol and Paphos, and in the west towards Nicosia - orange orchards cover 1.830 ha, mandarins 2.000 ha, grapefruit 720 ha and lemon groves 850 ha.

Originally based on clementines, Cyprus has had experience of specialised soft citrus growing for many years. Mandora is now the single largest citrus crop in Cyprus and E.U. is the main importer of the variety. Mandarins come on stream in January and are exported almost in their entirety. Some quantities of minneolas are also available around Christmas, as well as Nova and Ellendale.

The reputation earned by Cyprus for high quality oranges, also reflects decades of experience with this crop. The main varieties grown are Navel, Oval and Valencia late. The fact that Cyprus has been able to maintain and improve export volumes, underlines the careful husbandry and skilled marketing undertaken by growers/exporters.

Cultivation of lemons is steeped in the history of Cyprus. The high demand for the preferred thin-skinned, juicy fruit has ensured that the island maintains its place as a major winter and spring supplier. Harvesting and exports normally start in mid-September, with a big volume of crop, around 75 per cent, being shipped to both EU and non-EU countries.

The Cyprus grapefruit has a high juice and sugar content which is the result of virtually perfect growing conditions. New plantations have been established and Cyprus has now an export capacity for both white Marsh and red flesh grapefruit varieties. Exports equates to almost 80 per cent of total production.

To view the main exporters of citus fruits, please click here.

To view a detailed list of all citrus fruits available together with their seasonal availability, please click here.

 

Table Grapes

Cyprus is a producer of table grapes.The grape production in the island is as ancient as the history of the country. Table grapes are grown along the coastline and on the lower mountain slopes in the area stretching from Limassol to Paphos. Grape maturity varies by area thereby enabling the season to be extended. Main varieties grown are Sultana (including organic grapes), Thompson, Perlette and Superior, available during the period June to September.

 

Potatoes

Potatoes is one of the most important agricultural product exported from Cyprus. Production is concentrated on an area to the southeastern coastal region of the island, known for its distinct red soil, where the virtually frost free environment and deep red soil creates ideal conditions for the production of high quality potatoes. Potatoes is one of the most important agricultural product exported from Cyprus. Production is concentrated on an area to the southeastern coastal region of the island, known for its distinct red soil, where the virtually frost free environment and deep red soil creates ideal conditions for the production of high quality potatoes. 

Varieties grown are extremely versatile and can be used for consumption as well as industrial purposes. Main varieties are Spunta, Diamant, Cara, Nicola, Marabel, Marfona, Filea, Liseta, Sieglinde and Charlotte.

To view the main exporters of potatoes, please click here.

 

Herbs

The cultivation of aromatic plants started in Cyprus in 1990. The plants are offered in a fresh or dry form, but can also be distilled for essential oils.

Cyprus production of aromatic plants is considered to be of special quality, due to the warm climate and the clear water available in the island. Demand is increasing in export markets, with basil, in particular, showing great potential.

Basil is a versatile herb having different uses in various types of food. Whilst it has a special affinity with tomatoes and tomato-based dishes.

Main Varieties
Basil, Bay, Rosemary, Dictamnus, Thyme, Fennel, Marjoram, Mint, Capparis, Lavender, Hyssop, Sideritis, Rosa Damascena, Salvia, Origanum, Balm, Tarragon, Mentha and Lemon Verbena.

Seasonal Availability: All year round

To view a detailed list of all herbs available together with their seasonal availability, please click here.

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