Cyprus' official export figures indicate that 43-44% of the country's halloumi exports go to the UK, making us the number-one market in the world for the dairy product.
Considering this striking figure, it’s no wonder that Burger King UK thought it would be a good idea to launch a halloumi burger. Appearing on menus through the country from Monday (July 8), the new product will come as a single for £3.99 and a double for £5.49, putting it at the same price as a bacon double cheeseburger and a double whopper respectively.
According to Christian Binney, food development director at Burger King UK, the halloumi is all sourced from Cyprus, which explains the price point, the single patty just squeezing into the core range.
The burger is served simply with lettuce, onions, tomato and mayonnaise in a brioche bun, but if it is successful BK already have ideas for how to diversify the range.
“If this works out well for us, which I’m sure it will, there’s more we can do with halloumi, like a sweet chilli halloumi or a chilli jam halloumi,” says Binney.
While the product isn’t vegetarian – the halloumi is made with animal rennet and cooked in the same fryer as chicken products – it does provide an alternative protein to beef, notes Binney.
“We’re always trying to challenge what our customers expect of us in terms of delivering great flavours and bringing new kinds of burgers,” he adds. “We know that a lot of people want to go out and have indulgence but not always eat meat. We’re looking of course at plant-based trends as everybody is and I think this is just as a step in between there.”
Battle of the burgers
The UK isn’t the first place Burger King has added a halloumi burger to its range. That would be Sweden, the second-largest consumer of Cypriot halloumi, where BK offers a variant with truffle mayonnaise.
In the retail field, Iceland began selling a halloumi burger last month, while Tesco and Aldi stock halloumi fries.
In addition to adding more condiment options to the halloumi burger, Binney says he’s also looking at plant-based meat alternatives. In America, Burger King has already partnered up with faux meat company Impossible Foods to deliver the Impossible Whopper, though this is unlikely to come to the UK due to more stringent regulations around GMO foods in Europe.
Over at rival KFC, the Imposter Burger, made with Quorn instead of chicken, is nearing the end of its two-week, 20-store trial, having briefly sold out in the initial interest. While KFC has not confirmed that it will bring the item back permanently to more of its estate, the signs seem to point to a Greggs vegan sausage roll level of success – incidentally, also made with Quorn.
McDonald’s, meanwhile, partnered up with Nestle to trial its Incredible Burger under the name Big Vegan TS in Germany, with murmurings that it may be expanding to other markets soon.