It is that time of the year when some of South Africa’s top dairy producers compete in the biggest and oldest dairy competition in Africa, the South African Dairy Championships. This year, the competition is stiff with a total of 929 products from 71 South African dairy producers.
The who’s who of dairy specialists in the country recently convened in Durbanville in Cape Town for the judging of the 190th edition of the South African Dairy Championships. Participants rivalled for the attention of 80 judges over two days, from Thursday 20 April to Friday 21 April 2023, at Eensgezind Function Venue.
“It is a privilege to host the 190th anniversary of this prestigious agricultural event,” said Breyton Milford, general manager of Agri-Expo, organisers of the championships since 1834.
“It is an absolute honour to continue with this legacy. Together with industry roleplayers, we are proud to benchmark, recognise, and showcase excellence in the dairy industry,” Milford added.
Top quality and diversity
The quality and diversity of entries impressed international judge Gaëlle Lettier Buchhorn, a dairy specialist in Denmark at Chr Hansen, a global bio-science company that supplies natural ingredients to dairies.
“This is my first visit to South Africa, and I am pleasantly surprised with the diversity of the dairy products in the country,” Buchhorn said.
“The product quality ranges from good to very good, with excellent products that are on par with the quality we find in Europe.”
Buchhorn tasted amasi for the first time and advised dairy producers to continue innovating. “You are on the right path using the excellent natural ingredients you have available to produce great South African products.”
This year’s championships resulted in tough competition, according to chief judge Alan Fourie. “We had good interest from manufacturers, with over 500 entries in the cheese classes alone,” Fourie explained.
“We are proud of every producer that wants to test their products against the best in the country, as the championships entail a search for excellence by each producer, with an award proving that their products are benchmarked and rated as excellent. In addition, the championships stimulate innovation, and as always, we saw some wonderful new producers and new products this year.”
190 years of excellence
The significance of the SA Dairy Championships, according to Fourie, lies in its impact on the industry over the past 190 years, motivating manufacturers to produce the very best dairy products available.
“This is quite an achievement, also in the field of sensory training, as the event creates a platform that allows judges to learn as they go and to become future experts, such as the 17 first-time judges we included this year,” said Fourie, who has more than 40 years experience specialising in sensory evaluation of dairy products.
The SA Dairy Championships and SA Dairy Awards are hosted by Agri-Expo in partnership with platinum partner Synercore, diamond partners Chr. Hansen and IMCD SA, gold partners The Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Woolworths, silver partners Condio and Pick n Pay, as well as bronze partners Orchem, Mane, and AECI Food & Beverage.
The winners of the esteemed titles of SA Champion, Qualité, and Product of the Year will be announced on Thursday 25 May 2023 at the SA Dairy Awards, also at Eensgezind.
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