Time is running out, dairy companies.
With retail programs as unique as the products they align with, any opportunity to shine is one to grab. Amid many certifiers of taste, appearance, and quality, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest brings experience and precision to the game. Celebrating its 21st event since its introduction by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA) in 1981, the window to enter closes January 18.
“The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest is the nation’s premier cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry whey competition. It is a celebration of excellence and quality in dairy processing that pushes manufacturers to perfect their craft and unleash their creativity in their pursuit of the coveted title of U.S. Champion,” commented Kirsten Strohmenger, Contest Manager. “WCMA is proud to host this renowned industry event.”
While contest winners receive the right to use the high-resolution U.S. Championship Cheese Contest medallion logo to promote their win on packaging and in marketing efforts, all entrants gain valuable feedback from scoresheets judges complete while evaluating products.
“This specific technical feedback directly relates to the product’s manufacture, offering expert advice on making the best products possible,” Kirsten explained. “Products are evaluated by a panel of 40 expert judges from across the nation according to strict technical standards. During the first two days of the competition, they thoroughly evaluate each entry, starting from a maximum of 100 points possible, so every candidate benefits from the contest overall.”
Additionally, buyers looking for award-winning products are encouraged to observe the preliminary judging rounds in-person for free February 21 or 22, and view the unveiling of the winners live online on February 23.
“As the largest technical competition of its kind in the nation, the contest is also an opportunity for those in the nation’s dairy industry—and the general public—to come together, united by their appreciation of outstanding dairy products,” Kirsten said. “In 2023, judging will be open for public viewing at the Resch Expo on Tuesday, February 21, and Wednesday, February 22 from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Admission and samples are free, and we encourage anyone interested in the world of cheese to join the live-streamed announcement of the U.S. Champion on the afternoon of Thursday, February 23.”
Manufacturers of cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry dairy ingredients anywhere in the United States may enter the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, with around 2,000 entries of cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry dairy ingredients anticipated for 118 classes in 2023. For comparison, in the last United States Championship Cheese Contest in 2019, dairy manufacturers from 35 states entered.
“Entrants' first stop should be uschampioncheese.org, where they’ll find the 2023 Contest Entry Kit,” Kirsten advised. “The Entry Kit contains all the details entrants need, from contest rules and regulations to key deadlines and shipping information. Companies submit their entries through our unique online entry platform, MyEntries©, a one-stop worksite for the Championship Cheese Contests.”
The deadline to submit entries for the 2023 Contest is January 18. Don’t miss your chance to shine in this increasingly, splendidly competitive industry!