Kleinrivier Grana Frieda LloydParmalat SA was the cream of the dairy crop at the SA Dairy Championships 2014, having won the largest number of  champion awards for its dairy products.  The Klein River Cheese Grana was named 2014 Dairy Product of the Year at the DuPont Qualité Awards, organised by Agri-Expo a week ago.
Klein River Cheese is based outside Stanford, and its award-winning Grana is a slow-matured hard cheese.  Its strength, fruitiness, slight sweetness, granular texture, and hard and thick rind preserving the cheese impressed the judges.  Chief judge Kobus Mulder said about this cheese: ‘ ...the Klein River Cheese Grana so impressed the judges with its great taste and typical texture that they were in total agreement that this was indeed Number 1‘. 
Agri-Expo CEO Johan Ehlers said about the stature of the South African cheese awards:

Sustainably presenting these Championships for 180 years, as well as the impressive growth in number of entries and quality thereof over the last decade, is indeed an achievement of note. The Championships today represents the entire South African dairy industry and is perceived as one of the top dairy competitions in the world’.  More than 800 dairy products by 68 dairy producers, including butter, cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, flavoured milk, dairy dips, ice cream, and dairy dessert, were presented for evaluation. International cheese judge Ulf Mortensen was impressed with the improvement in the quality of cheeses entered relative to his last judging in 2012,  saying:

The vast majority of samples were of reasonably good to very good quality. My contribution would be to encourage cheese makers to make sure that a cheese is not simply good tasting, but in fact also attractive to look at. After all, consumers buy with their eyes first, then on account of smell and finally the taste‘.

 The Qualité mark of excellence was awarded to 15 dairy products, four of them going to Lancewood’s cottage cheeses, one being a Pick ‘n Pay branded Low Fat Peppadew and Garlic Chunky one. Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt received the awards for three of its products, including Woolworths branded Tropical Fruit and Double Toffee frozen yoghurts.  Clover was recognised for its Mooirivier Salted Butter and Butro Butter Spread. Other award winners are Belnori Boutique Cheesery (Von Tobien), Fair Cape Dairies (Woolworths Chocolate Delight), Karoo Goat’s Milk Products (Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese Balls with Garlic Pepper), Klein River Cheese (Grana), Parmalat SA (Simonsberg Low Fat Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese) and Van der Poel Kaas (Gonedsa Oud 12-15 months).

More than 10% of the dairy products entered were named SA Champions, 13 of Parmalat SA’s products (Simonsberg VintageParmalat SA Simonsig Cheeses Cheddar, Simonsberg Matured Gouda, Bonnita Matured Cheddar, Simonsberg Extra Matured Cheddar, Simonsberg Ready-to-eat Camembert, Simonsberg Cambrieni, Simonsberg Low Fat Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese, Melrose Full Cream Cheddar Flavoured Cheese Spread, Melrose Full Cream Sweetmilk Cheese Spread (portions), Melrose Sweetmilk Cheese Slices, Fabulite Fat Free Plain Yoghurt, as well as the Parmalat-produced Woolworths Unsalted Butter 250g and Woolworths Mild Cheddar), 10 Lancewood products, 7 Faircape, and 6 Belnori Boutique Cheesery and 6 Clover SA products being the leading brands receiving this designation.

SA Dairy Championships, Agri-Expo.  Tel (021) 975-4440.  www.cheesesa.co.za

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage