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New record for dairy industry: SA Dairy Championships attracts 975 entries

Two new judges, Oelof Vorster (Head chef of Le chêne restaurant, Franschhoek) and Slindile Khoza (trainee dairy product developer, Woolworths), along with Johan Ehlers (Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo), celebrity chef Marlene van der Westhuizen and chief judge Alan Fourie at the 2020 SA Dairy Championships.

A record number of 975 dairy products compete in this years South African Dairy Championships, the biggest dairy competition in Africa, taking place on Thursday 27 February 2020 at GrandWest in Cape Town.

“It is exciting to record a new record number of entries in the 187th year of this championships existence,” says Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, the organiser of the championships since 1834. “This large number of entries by 74 manufacturers in more than 100 different classes is especially good news for the dairy industry, which is still hampered by challenges such as the ongoing drought. ”

“The South African Championships creates an annual opportunity for agri-processors to compete nationally at a very high level of quality and innovation,” Ehlers adds. “It is encouraging that 11 new manufacturers have joined this year, as well as that manufacturers are entering innovative products, which indicates growth in product development.”

The benchmark of excellence

A new chief judge, renowned dairy and cheese expert Alan Fourie, heads the team of 80 judges this year. According to Fourie, the sole purpose of the championships is to recognise and promote excellence in the dairy industry.

“The SA Dairy Championships is one of the only competitions in the world that uses five judges per category and has become the benchmark which large and small manufacturers use to measure themselves against each other,” says Fourie. “The championships consists of more than 100 classes for cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, ice cream, butter and other products. The winners in the various classes are crowned SA Champions. Only a few products of exceptional quality are awarded the Qualité mark, which is recognised as the only mark of excellence for dairy products in South Africa. After the first round of assessment, a panel of five experts determines the Product of the Year.”

Supporting training in the dairy industry

The championships allows for continuity and exchange of industry expertise by including younger judges. Several new judges are participating this year, as well as shadow judges. Some of the championship judges recently attended the first Sensory Dairy Product Evaluation Course of the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) which serves as a tool for dairy judges. The team also includes previous participants in the Burgundy Cheese Makers Exchange Programme, a bilateral agreement between the Western Cape Government and the Burgundy Regional Government (co-ordinated by Agri-Expo).

The 2020 SA Dairy Championships are made possible by partners Agri-Expo, Synercore, Lake Foods, Condio, Orchem, Guth SA, the MPO and The Dairy Mail. The winners will be announced at the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards dinner on Thursday 26 March 2020 in the Stellenbosch Town Hall. Interested parties can visit www.cheesesa.co.za and www.agriexpo.co.za, or contact Agri-Expo on 021 975 4440 or e-mail us.