New Zealand cheesemakers fight back against EU protection of 'halloumi'

Kiwi cheesemakers are fighting back against the EU's protection of the name halloumi.

Already no cheese in the EU can be called halloumi unless it was made in Cyprus and now European lawmakers want to extend that to New Zealand.

The rubbery cheese is the latest in a string of naming rights demands the EU is making which includes products from feta to gorgonzola. 

Cheesemakers in New Zealand say it's a tactic to shut them out of growing export markets. 

"The Europeans want to, through this backdoor technique, waltz in and say thank you very much for all your hard work promoting this product. We'll take your market now,"  says Neil Willman from the Specialist Cheesemakers Association of New Zealand.  

Malcolm Bailey from Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand calls the demand a "creeping disease".

"It's really a creeping disease if you like in that the European Union hasn't said this is a definitive list that they intend to add to it over time and we simply can't have our Government agree to this in the FTA negotiations."

Popular cheeses often have names that date back centuries or are named after the places they were produced.

Newshub spoke to a number of people who said they would still buy New Zealand halloumi if it had a different name: "We don't need to use halloumi aye, we can find our own words."