From left to right are Breyton Milford (General Manager of Agri-Expo), Gaëlle Lettier Buchhorn (international judge and dairy specialist at Chr.Hansen), Dr. Ivan Meyer (Western Cape Minister of Agriculture), and Robyn Bolters (product developer and first-time judge). Photo: A Gorman Photography
The who’s who of dairy specialists in the country recently convened in Durbanville for the judging of the 190th edition of the biggest and oldest dairy competition in Africa, the South African Dairy Championships.
A total of 929 products from 71 South African dairy producers rivalled for the attention of eighty judges over two days, from Thursday 20 April to Friday 21 April 2023, at Eensgezind Function Venue. The winners of the esteemed titles of SA Champion, Qualité, and Product of the Year will be announced on Thursday 25 May 2023 at the SA Dairy Awards, also at Eensgezind.
It is a privilege to host the 190th anniversary of this prestigious agricultural event, according to Breyton Milford, General Manager of Agri-Expo, organisers of the championships since 1834. “It is an absolute honour to continue with this legacy,” Milford says. “Together with industry roleplayers, we are proud to benchmark, recognise, and showcase excellence in the dairy industry.”
JUDGES APPLAUD QUALITY, DIVERSITY, AND INNOVATION
The quality and diversity of entries impressed international judge Gaëlle Lettier Buchhorn, a dairy specialist in Denmark at Chr.Hansen, a global bio-science company that supplies natural ingredients to dairies. “This is my first visit to South Africa, and I am pleasantly surprised with the diversity of the dairy products in the country,” Buchhorn says. “The product quality ranges from good to very good, with excellent products that are on par with the quality we find in Europe.” Buchhorn tasted amasi for the first time and advised dairy producers to continue innovating: “You are on the right path using the excellent natural ingredients you have available to produce great South African products.”
This year’s championships resulted in tough competition, according to Chief Judge Alan Fourie. “We had good interest from manufacturers, with over 500 entries in the cheese classes alone,” Fourie explains. “We are proud of every producer that wants to test their products against the best in the country, as the championships entails a search for excellence by each producer, with awards proving that their products are benchmarked and rated as excellent. In addition, the championships stimulates innovation, and as always, we saw some wonderful new producers and new products this year.”
The significance of the SA Dairy Championships, according to Fourie, lies in its impact on the industry over the past 190 years, motivating manufacturers to produce the very best dairy products available. “This is quite an achievement, also in the field of sensory training, as the event creates a platform that allows judges to learn as they go and to become future experts, such as the 17 first-time judges we included this year,” says Fourie, who has more than 40 years experience specialising in sensory evaluation of dairy products.
The SA Dairy Championships and SA Dairy Awards are hosted by Agri-Expo in partnership with platinum partner Synercore, diamond partners Chr.Hansen and IMCD SA, gold partners The Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Woolworths, silver partners Condio and Pick n Pay, as well as bronze partners Orchem, Mane, and AECI Food & Beverage.
For more information, call 021 863 1599 / 083 440 1628 or e-mail [email protected].
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