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Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association's Grace Atherton Discusses World Championship Cheese Contest® Highlights

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association's Grace Atherton Discusses World Championship Cheese Contest® Highlights


MADISON, WI
Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

When someone asks us about the elite players in the cheesemaking game, we tip our hats to the winners of the World Championship Cheese Contest®. As one of the world’s premier technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competitions, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association’s (WCMA) biennial contest encompasses over 140 distinct entry classes and thousands of individual product entries.

Grace Atherton, Communications Director, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association“What began as a Cheddar cheese competition in 1957 has now become a technical evaluation process of products, designed to provide rich feedback to manufacturers from our international panel of expert judges,” Grace Atherton, WCMA Communications Director, shares with me. “The competition also motivates teams at companies and cooperatives around the world and offers a chance to celebrate success. Finally, individual brands and products receive a major sales and marketing boost from earning contest medals. With only one gold, silver, and bronze medalist in each class, our contest winners can truly claim to be the best in the world. Every maker of cheese, butter, yogurt, and dry dairy ingredients across the globe is eligible to compete!”

Not only does the competition allow companies to see how they stack up against other organizations, but it also offers dairy manufacturers and processors the opportunity to access expert technical feedback, showcase their craftsmanship, reach new customers, and achieve the highest levels of recognition among their peers in the industry.

Whether a product is early in its production or launch to the market, or in its seasoned standing in the category—the benefits are endless.

“New this year in contest categories are classes for Raclette and pasteurized process cheese products. Raclette will compete in a class of its own for the first time this year, and the new pasteurized process cheese class expands the opportunity for manufacturers worldwide to submit their products for competition,” Grace continues.

Contest winners—any entrant who earns a gold, silver, or bronze medal—receive access to the World Championship Cheese Contest medallion logo at no cost, enabling them to promote their success on their packaging, signage, digital platforms, and other marketing applications.

New this year in contest categories are classes for Raclette and pasteurized process cheese products

“This golden seal has become a marker of high quality to consumers worldwide,” Grace says. “And even if they don’t come away with a medal, entrants receive specific feedback on their products from our elite team of world-renowned judges.”

Each product goes through a rigorous process of evaluation and is scored across a range of criteria. Judges can also provide comments to the entrant for future improvement in a wide variety of areas.

“Starting from a maximum possible 100 points, judges deduct for any defect found related to flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish, and packaging. Scoring is extremely precise. For example, at the 2022 World Championship Cheese Contest, the top three cheeses were separated by just one-tenth of a point each,” Grace details.

For those looking to get in on this renowned competition, online entries are being accepted now until January 26, 2024, at WorldChampionCheese.org. The next step is the judging phase, which will occur March 5-7 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin, with preliminary rounds open for free public viewing from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on March 5 and 6.

To sign up to compete in the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association's World Championship Cheese Contest®, cheesemakers need to submit their entries soon

To wrap up the highly anticipated event, the contest will conclude with an announcement of the World Champion Cheese and runners-up on the afternoon of March 7. The event will be livestreamed on Facebook.com and at WorldChampionCheese.org.

With the competition sign-up window quickly closing in January, those looking for a challenge with myriad benefits should take this story as a cue to enter the 2024 contest! We wish you all the best of luck!

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association
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