Johan Ehlers (CEO, Agri-Expo), Vernon Manuel (Dairy Specialist, DuPont and 2005 Burgundy Exchange Student), Leonard Majampa (Production Manager, DV Chocolates and 2010 Burgundy Exchange Student), Beverley Schäfer (West Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities) and Lucio Lepera (Dairy Specialist of Sacco Systems in Italy).
The biggest dairy competition in Africa, the judging of the South African Dairy Championships, takes place on Thursday 28 February 2019 at GrandWest in Cape Town. This year, 76 manufacturers entered a total of 882 dairy products in more than 100 different classes.
“These large numbers of entries are good news for the dairy industry, which is hampered by a sluggish economy and ongoing drought,” says Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, organiser of the championships since 1834.
“It is encouraging that there are several first-time entries and that manufacturers are also entering new products in other classes, which indicates a growth in product development,” adds Ehlers.
Industry recognizes excellence
According to Ehlers, the championships’ sole purpose is to recognize and promote excellence in the dairy industry.
“The championships has become the benchmark for large as well as small manufacturers to measure themselves against each other,” says Ehlers. “A team of 75 judges awards an SA Champion in each class. Only a few products of exceptional quality are awarded the Qualité mark, which is recognized as the only mark of excellence for dairy products in South Africa. The Product of the Year is determined by a panel of five experts.”
Potential of agri-processing
Beverley Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, says the championships is an opportunity for agri-processors to compete nationally at a very high level of quality and innovation. “By promoting excellence, the awards stimulate greater demand and new product development that help grow this sector of our economy,” says Schäfer.
According to Schäfer, the agri-processing sector is an important focus for the Western Cape: “Agri-processing has excellent growth and export potential, which in turn will help to grow our economy and create new jobs”.
The championships provides for continuity by including younger judges, such as previous participants in the Burgundy Cheese Makers Exchange Programme, a bilateral agreement between the Western Cape Government and the Burgundy Regional Government (co-ordinated by Agri-Expo). These former students occupy senior positions in the industry today and plough their expertise back in this manner.
The 2019 SA Dairy Championships is made possible through partnerships with Lake Foods, Santam Agriculture, the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) and The Dairy Mail. The winners will be announced at the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards Dinner at GrandWest in Cape Town on 29 March 2019. Interested parties can visit www.cheesesa.co.za and www.agriexpo.co.za, or contact Agri-Expo at 021 975 4440 or [email protected].