February 21 is circled on our collective trade calendars as the starting date for the 2023 United States Championship Cheese Contest®. Dairy manufacturers across the country are gearing up for robust competition for the coveted title of U.S. Champion. Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), the proud host of the contest, announced that 197 makers of cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry dairy ingredients in 35 states have already submitted 2,249 products across 113 classes for evaluation in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“This impressive number of entries shows how meaningful this competition is to the nation’s dairy craftsmen and women,” said WCMA’s Kirsten Strohmenger, Contest Manager. “When customers see the golden Contest seal on a winner’s product on store shelves, they know it means true quality and value, thanks to the skill of our experienced judges and the rigorous technical standards they employ. We’re honored to provide this opportunity for dairy manufacturers large and small to improve their craft and grow their businesses.”
An esteemed panel of judges indeed. This year’s expert judging team includes 41 cheese graders, cheese buyers, dairy science professors, and researchers from 12 states across the U.S.
Held February 21–22 at the Resch Expo in Green Bay, a team of highly qualified dairy processing experts from across the United States will carefully evaluate each product and calculate a precise score based on attributes such as flavor, body, texture, salt, color, finish, packaging, and others. These Preliminary Rounds of judging will be open to the public from 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. on both days.
According to the release, gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded to the three highest-scoring entries in each of this year’s 113 distinct classes. A ceremony announcing the 2023 U.S. Champion will be closed to the public, but cheese lovers everywhere can watch the event live online at USChampionCheese.org and on Facebook at 2:00 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, February 23.
Break out the popcorn and cheese boards! Keep an eye out for more updates as we keep a pulse on the wire.