Simple done right
Veroni - Authentic Italian charcuterie - 100 Percent Humanly Raised - SFFS Booth number 2719
The 40th Annual American Cheese Society Conference Wraps Up; Tara Holmes and Rachel Perez Comment

The 40th Annual American Cheese Society Conference Wraps Up; Tara Holmes and Rachel Perez Comment


DES MOINES, IA
Friday, July 21st, 2023

Forty years of cheese. That is the affirmation attendees hit the show floor with as they descended upon the 40th Annual American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference July 18–21. Marking four decades of careers dedicated to elevating cheese excellence in the United States, this year’s event was not one to miss.

Tara Holmes, Executive Director, American Cheese Society“The American artisan cheese industry has come a long way since the American Cheese Society was created 40 years ago,” Tara Holmes, Executive Director of ACS, told me. “I believe the ACS founders would be proud of how far cheeses in the Americans have progressed, and they are now some of the most recognized and respected in the world. It is quite an accomplishment for our organization to have reached this point, and I am proud of our efforts to promote and support American cheeses.”

More than 1,100 cheese enthusiasts attended the conference ranging from the supply-side, buy-side, and everyone in between. There were 168 different companies that served as the sponsors, exhibitors, and Meet the Cheesemakers participants to support the event. Overall, more than 35 sessions took place over two and a half days.

The primary focus of this annual event is to educate. The organization aims to not only educate industry members on the importance of viable, ethical, and sustainable cheese practices, but gives makers the opportunity to see their time-tested operations from a new perspective.

Attendees recently descended upon the 40th Annual American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference held July 18–21

On the morning of day one, attendees could choose from four different events taking place around the Des Moines, Iowa, area. If they weren’t attending the Artisan Cheese Food Safety Workshop, you could likely find attendees on one of the three local tours—Food Culture in the Heartland: Growing More Than Corn; Farm to Table; and Food Stream: An Educational Culinary Experience. The day ended with insights from the President's Reception and the ever popular Des Moines Cheese Crawl.

Day two is when the educational opportunities really ramped up. While the networking salons and supporting trade tables opened up, attendees flooded into the first of three sets of concurrent sessions, totaling 14 different sessions on day one alone. Finally, attendees made their way to the Grand Ballroom to witness the award recipients from the ACS Judging and Competition (J&C).

Rachel Perez, Judging and Competition Chair, American Cheese Society“J&C is a unique competition that focuses on providing expert constructive feedback with the goal of giving cheesemakers the guidance to produce better cheese and elevate cheese made in the Americas in the marketplace,” said J&C Chair Rachel Perez. “The growth of this year’s competition truly reflects the vibrancy of the American cheese industry. As the industry’s highest honor, winning a medal at Judging & Competition or the coveted ‘Best of Show’ is not only a sign of excellence but also increases winners’ visibility.”

There were a total of 1,454 entries for the J&C portion of the event from 195 different organizations. ACS handed out 370 awards, 113 of which were gold medals.

The top winners include:

  • 1st Place Best of Show: St. Malachi, The Farm at Doe Run
  • 2nd Place Best of Show: Cumberland, Sequatchie Cove Creamery
  • 3rd Place Best of Show (tie):
    • Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Uplands Cheese
    • Prairie Tomme, Green Dirt Farm
    • Basket Molded Chevre, Pure Luck

Over 1,100 cheese enthusiasts attended the conference alongside 168 different companies that served as the sponsors, exhibitors, and Meet the Cheesemakers participants

Nine more sessions took place on the third day of the conference, focusing on topics such as developing successful promotional and pricing strategies, innovation and growth with new cheeses, and finding your own path in the cheese industry. After a busy day at the networking salons and supporting trade tables, attendees gathered for the ACS 40 Years of Cheese Reception before heading out into the night for Midnite Mongers Cheese Parody Karaoke.

ACS show goers rose bright and early on the last day of the show for the Cheeseletes 5k Run/Walk, which could be participated in either in person or virtually. Supporting trade tables set up shop for their last few conversations as attendees trickled in and out of the Iowa Events Center. Ten final sessions took place, covering topics from mental health to cheese R&D. For their final hurrah, some attendees joined the closing tour of Iowa State University’s Food Science and Human Nutrition building.

There were a total of 1,454 entries for the Judging and Competition portion of the event, and ACS handed out 370 awards

In between all the hustle and bustle of this four-day event, attendees took part in book signings with Janet Fletcher, Thalassa Skinner, and Erika Kubick. A Volunteer Recruitment and Information Event, Retailer and Distributor Preview, Meet the Cheesemaker, and morning yoga class all held their attention as the days sped along.

We at Deli Market News are big proponents of the cheese industry. It is events like this one that allow this segment to continue growing and developing into a better version of what it was yesterday. We look forward to all the events to come, and hope to see you there!

American Cheese Society
Topics: