SA Dairy Product of the Year: Winner outperforms 1 000 others

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A 10-month-old mature gouda, made especially for Woolworths by Lactalis South Africa, was crowned the SA Dairy Product of the Year at the prestigious South African Dairy Awards on 25 April 2024 at Eensgezind outside Durbanville.

The winning Woolworths Mature Gouda 10 months was one of a record number of 1 029 dairy products from 78 producers, including 12 first-time entrants, that vied for the attention of the judges, a team of 82 representing 52 companies.

From the high number of entries, 110 products were selected as SA Champions, standing out as winners in each championships class. Thirty products were awarded with the esteemed Qualité mark of excellence, the only mark of excellence in the South African dairy industry (see the full list at the end of the article).

Everyone is a big cheese!

Breyton Milford, general manager of Agri-Expo, said in the South African Dairy Championships there are only winners and learners – there are no losers. “We admire your hard work and the passion and dedication you have for this industry.”

Milford thanked every dairy manufacturer who entered their products for trusting Agri-Expo to build on this legacy, one that the dairy industry should be very proud of. He also thanked the judges for taking the time to evaluate these products.

This year’s event marked the 191st edition of the SA Dairy Championships, the biggest and oldest dairy competition in Africa. Agri-Expo has been the host of the event since 1834. “With this competition we recognise excellence in the dairy industry. The championships underscore the diversity and extensive array of products the industry manufactures, but it also shines a spotlight on the significant contribution the dairy sector makes to the South African economy,” Milford said.

A legacy of exceptional dairy quality

“Every dairy producer’s dream is to have their product selected as SA Dairy Product of the Year in a competition like this,” said chief judge and dairy expert Graham Sutherland. “The Woolworths 10-month mature Gouda has established a legacy for exceptional quality over a period of time. What makes this cheese so unique is the combination of taste and texture, which produces a flavourful and satisfying tasting experience.

“The producer has put all the necessary measures in place to ensure that the quality of this cheese is maintained to the highest standard, and the competency of the cheesemaker is incredibly high. With this product, they have discovered an extremely potent winning formula.”

A 10-month-old mature gouda, made especially for Woolworths by Lactalis South Africa, was crowned the SA Dairy Product of the Year at the prestigious South African Dairy Awards on 25 April 2024 at Eensgezind outside Durbanville. At the back are Chris Fourie, president of Agri-Expo, and Breyton Milford, general manager of Agri-Expo. In the front are Linda Segalla of IMCD (platinum partner), Arnold Nieuwoudt of Lactalis South Africa, and Tsitsi Nyamugama of Dsm-firmenich (platinum partner).

Herman Janse van Rensburg, general manager of Lactalis South Africa, said his team is thrilled about having claimed the 2024 SA Dairy Product of the Year award. “We are excited that the top dairy award has gone to team Lactalis South Africa for an incredible sixth time in the past eight years. This is an incredible achievement.

“Thank you to all our dedicated teams who work incredibly hard and always strive to maintain the high-quality standards our consumers expect from us as a company. Also, thank you to Agri-Expo for providing this opportunity to showcase South Africa’s dairy expertise.”

The Game Changer award

Milford said at the event this year marked the birth of a new competition, the Game Changer Award. This new accolade for the SA Dairy Championships is dedicated to honouring young individuals under the age of 40 years who have already made significant strides in the dairy industry. “It should serve as both recognition of their achievements and encouragement to continue their pursuit of excellence.”

During the Dairy Championships, Agri-Expo honoured 34-year-old Clement October, head cheesemaker at Klein River Cheese, with the inaugural Hollard Game Changer Award along with a cash prize of R50 000. From left is Andries Wiese, national business development manager of Hollard, Clement October, head cheesemaker of Klein River Cheese, and Breyton Milford, general manager of Agri-Expo.

This award, sponsored by Hollard, gives recognition to a young person under the age of 40 years who is already making massive strides within the dairy industry. Agri-Expo honoured 34-year-old Clement October, head cheesemaker at Klein River Cheese, with the inaugural Hollard Game Changer Award along with a cash prize of R50 000. October has been part of the award-winning Klein River Cheese team for 15 years, with the last three years at the helm.

Promoting dairy innovation and quality

“This year’s record number of entries and excellent results testify to an innovative industry with healthy competition between bigger manufacturers and smaller entrepreneurs,” says Milford. “Congratulations to Fairview for winning six Qualité awards; Fair Cape Dairies for claiming five; Belnori Boutique Cheesery, who took home four; Lactalis South Africa, who won three; Fairfield, Lancewood, and Polar Ice Cream Company who were each awarded two Qualités, as well as all the other winners.”

Agri-Expo thanks all partners for their support in facilitating the SA Dairy Championships. “We appreciate our new three-year platinum partnership with IMCD and Dsm-firmenich, alongside our diamond partners Chr.Hansen and Synercore, gold partners Checkers, Hollard, Orchem, IFF, Woolworths, and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, silver partners Condio and Pick n Pay, as well as bronze partner Mane.”

Linda Segalla from IMCD South Africa expressed their commitment to supporting excellence in the dairy industry and promoting innovation and quality. “Committing to the SA Dairy Championships for the next three years reflects IMCD’s long-term dedication to fostering growth and recognition within the dairy community,” says Segalla. “With our expertise and commitment to the industry, IMCD is the ideal partner to help elevate the market to new heights.”

The 2024 Qualité winners

The Qualité Mark of Excellence, the dairy industry’s sole mark of excellence, is reserved for select products of exceptional quality that have achieved a specific minimum score on the international scorecard. The product securing the highest score is crowned SA Dairy Product of the Year.

FAIRVIEW CHEESE COMPANY (6)

Woolworths Cambozola

Woolworths Medium Fat Cream Cheese – Plain

Woolworths Raspberry Roulade with Pink Peppercorns

Woolworths Cream Cheese Tomato & Herb

Woolworths Brie de Roche

Woolworths Roydon

FAIR CAPE DAIRIES (5)

Woolworths Fresh Custard with Vanilla Bean Seeds (Honourable Mention: Second Place Overall)

Woolworths Ayrshire Double Cream Lemon Curd Yoghurt

Woolworths Chocolate Mousse

Low Fat Granadilla Flavoured Yoghurt

Full Cream Peaches & Cream Flavoured Yoghurt

BELNORI BOUTIQUE CHEESERY (4)

Mulderswood

Windsor – Madagascan Green Peppercorns

St Francis of Ashishi

Nederwood

LACTALIS SOUTH AFRICA (3)

Woolworths Mature Gouda – 10 months (2024 SA Dairy Product of the Year)

Président Mature Gouda – 6 months

Woolworths Mature Gouda – 24 months

FAIRFIELD DAIRY (2)

First Choice Double Cream Plain Yoghurt

Woolworths Organic Low Fat Chunky Cottage Cheese Plain

LANCEWOOD (2)

Medium Fat Cream Cheese – Plain

Low Fat Drinking Yoghurt – Toffee Fudge Flavoured

POLAR ICE CREAM (2)

Polar Premier Swiss Chocolate – Chocolate Ice Cream

Polar Signature Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce

BEL SOUTH AFRICA (1): The Laughing Cow Full Fat Cheese Spread – Plain (Wedges)

CRICKLEY DAIRY (1) Medium Fat Yoghurt – Cape Fruit

DE PEKELAAR (1): Matured Gouda (Honourable Mention: Third Place Overall)

KLEIN RIVER CHEESE (1) Gruberg Vintage

MARCEL’S GOURMET FROZEN YOGHURT (1): Woolworths Mint Flavoured Dairy Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

MORNING MILK (1): Round Gouda

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