This week, World Championship Cheese Contest organizers announced a record-breaking 3,402 entries have been received for the 2018 competition, with total participation up 15 percent from the last contest held in 2016.
“The World Championship Cheese Contest has grown steadily over the past two decades,” said Kirsten Strohmenger, Events Manager for Contest Host, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, in a press release. “We’re particularly excited to see the significant jump in entries from cheesemakers operating outside the United States.”
For the 2018 Contest, international entries are up 33 percent, for a a total of 919. Cheesemakers from 26 nations, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, are sending their best dairy products for evaluation.
The United States of America is also strongly represented in the international competition, with entries coming from 32 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
“Both in the U.S. and around the world, our Contest’s gold medal on the labels of award-winning cheese drives consumer purchases and boosts sales,” said Strohmenger. “Our Contest offers them the chance at a lucrative title with a guarantee of fair and impartial technical evaluation from a team of internationally-renowned judges.”
This year’s judging team consists of 55 experienced cheese graders, cheese buyers, dairy science professors, and researchers from 20 countries and 15 American states. Judges are led by Chief Judge Robert Aschebrock, Chief Judge Emeritus Bill Schlinsog, and Assistant Chief Judges Tim Czmowski of Agropur, Inc., Stan Dietsche of Oshkosh Cheese Sales & Storage, Josef Hubatschek of ALPMA, Mariana Marques de Almeida of Ms. J and Co., Jim Mueller of Mueller Consulting, and Sandy Toney of Masters Gallery Foods, with Brian Eggebrecht of Welcome Dairy, Inc. in Colby, Wisconsin serving as Contest Committee Chairman.
Contest judges will evaluate 121 classes of dairy products, including new categories for traditional waxed and natural rinded Cheddars; Paneer; an open class for hard cheeses with natural rinds; and various goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. A single gold, silver, and bronze medal is awarded to top products in each class.
“As trends in cheese making shift, so too do classes in the World Championship Cheese Contest,” said Strohmenger. “Ensuring that every cheese is fairly judged against the standards of its type ultimately ensures that when our judges name the Grand Champion, you know it truly is the best cheese in the world.”
In 2016, Emmi Roth USA’s Grand Cru Surchoix claimed the title after earning a judges’ score of 98.88 out of 100–the first American-made cheese to top the competition in 28 years.
Started in 1957, the World Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the world. For more information on this year’s contest set for March 6-8 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, visit WorldChampionCheese.org.
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