Parmalat’s Mature Gouda (10 months) made especially for Woolworths wore the crown as the 2017 SA Dairy Product of the Year at the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards Gala (17 March). This cheese, an aromatic and full-flavoured cheese, follows in the footsteps of their 6-month matured Gouda that won this prestigious title in 2006.
No less than 854 products from 83 producers vied for the special attention of the 74 judges who range from food technologists to cheese retailers, and food bloggers to chefs. From the magnitude of entries, sixteen were honoured with the Qualité mark of excellence (full list of the crème de la crème below) and 95 were named SA Champion.
Milk now part of the fold
Following 183 years of hosting the competition, which is greatly revered by the local industry, Agri-Expo constantly searches for innovative ways of perfecting this process. For this purpose, new categories were established for pasteurised milk and UHT milk. “We are only too aware that not all milk is created equal and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of entries we received,” says Johan Ehlers, Agri-Expo CEO. “The judges chose to award four milk products with the title of SA Dairy Champion: Clover for their Prisma UHT Full Cream and UHT Low Fat, Fairfield Dairy’s Woolworths Pasteurised Milk (Low Fat – Ayrshire), and the Woolworths Ayrshire Full Cream Milk by Rhodes Food Group.”
“The process of determining the Dairy Product of the Year from such classes as ice cream and butter, or cottage cheese and sheep’s milk cheese, is no easy feat,” says chief judge and international dairy expert Kobus Mulder. “Therefore Agri-Expo instituted a new procedure whereby all the Qualité winners are lined up and evaluated to determine the most superior dairy product from amongst these exceptional products. In previous years the product with the highest overall score was awarded this honour.”
No less than 13 producers are newcomers to this year’s competition (of which 5 offers mainly goat’s milk products, indicating steady growth in this niche product range). According to first time entrant, Jason Sandell, co-finder of Las Paletas, an authoritative competition such as this is great for any brand, but especially so for artisan producers. “We chose to enter some of our 100% natural dairy products which have the widest appeal for the mass market,” he explains. (Las Paletas who produces handmade artisan sorbet and dairy lollies, wins a SA Champion award for their Grande Chocolate Lolly.) In an effort to promote continuous improvement and innovation, all entrants benefit from feedback from the judges.
Agri-Expo expresses its appreciation to the sponsors of this evening, namely Du Pont, Kerry Ingredients, MANE, Crown Ingredients, CONDIO and AFC, for their commitment to the development of the SA dairy industry.
2017 QUALITÉ AWARD WINNERS:
|Parmalat SA (4)||Simonsberg Matured Gouda|
Woolworths Matured Gouda 10 months
Vintage Cheddar – minimum age: 18 months
|Lancewood Holdings (3)||PnP Low Fat Chunky Cottage Cheese – Sweet Piquant Pepper & Garlic|
PnP Medium Fat Cream Cheese – Balsamic & Onion
Medium Fat Plain Cream Cheese
|Belnori Boutique Cheesery||Kilembe|
|Clover||1906 Extra Mature Cheddar: 10-18 months|
|Delitaly||Don Gelato Piemonte Hazelnuts|
|De Pekelaar Kaas||Boerenkaas with Cumin|
|Fair Cape Dairies||Woolworths Full Cream Raspberry Yoghurt|
|Fairview Cheese Company||Woolworths De Leeuwen|
|Foxenburg Estate||Renosterbos Matured – 4 months|
|Klein River Cheese||Klein River Gruberg – Extra Mature|
Lovers of all things dairy will be able to taste many of these outstanding products at the SA Cheese Festival held from 28-30 April at Sandringham.