SOUTH AFRICA – The 191st South African Dairy Championships, hosted by Agri-Expo since 1834, celebrated the best in the dairy industry, establishing itself as Africa’s oldest and largest dairy competition.

Breyton Milford, General Manager of Agri-Expo, announced that the 2024 SA Dairy Championship attracted an unprecedented 1,029 entries from 78 dairy manufacturers, marking a new record for both entries and participating manufacturers.

Milford highlighted the significance of this growth, emphasizing the competition’s credibility and industry support, evidenced by the inclusion of twelve new manufacturers this year.

He noted the dual benefits of the SA Dairy Championships for both consumers and manufacturers, noting that the competition not only allows consumers to identify and purchase quality dairy products but also provides manufacturers with valuable recognition for their winning products.

Furthermore, he clarified the primary purpose of the SA Dairy Championships: to recognize and promote excellence within the dairy industry, establishing itself as the industry benchmark for dairy manufacturers to measure their performance against each other.

The winning product in each of the 100+ classes receive the title of SA Champion, while only a few outstanding products are awarded the Qualité Mark of Excellence. “The product with the highest score is honoured as the SA Dairy Product of the Year,”  Milford explained.

Chief Judge Graham Sutherland, overseeing the 2024 South African Dairy Championships, emphasized the competition’s critical role in the dairy industry.

With a comprehensive evaluation process covering appearance, texture, and flavour across ten categories and over 100 classes, Sutherland highlighted the complexity of the competition, necessitating five judges per category selected from diverse backgrounds within the dairy industry.

Sutherland, a seasoned food technologist with international experience in sensory evaluation, commended the growing number of entries each year, noting the healthy competition among major manufacturers, particularly in classes like Cheddar and Gouda.

He also praised the innovation observed, especially among manufacturers entering goat milk products, lauding their creativity and high-quality products.

Woolworths secured the title of Dairy Product of the Year with its 10-month-old mature gouda, crafted in collaboration with Lactalis South Africa.

Chief Judge Sutherland praised Woolworths Mature Gouda for its exceptional quality, while Herman Janse van Rensburg, General Manager for Lactalis South Africa, expressed delight at securing the Product of the Year award for the sixth time in eight years.

The 2024 Qualité winners included Fairview Cheese Company, Fair Cape Dairies, Belnori Boutique Cheese, Lactalis South Africa, Fairfield Dairy, Lancewood, Polar Ice Cream Company, Bel South Africa, Crickley Dairy, De Pekelaar, Klein River CHEESE, Marcel’s Gourmet Frozen Yoghurt and Morning milk company.

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