World Championship Cheese Contest organizers today announced a record-breaking 3,667 entries in the 2020 competition, set for March 3-5 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Overall participation is up hundreds from 2018, when the biennial Contest was last held.
“The World Championship Cheese Contest continues to grow year-after-year,” said Kirsten Strohmenger, Events Manager for Contest host, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “With more entries than ever before, the 2020 Contest is set to be our largest and most exciting one yet.”
Cheesemakers from 26 nations, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, are sending their best dairy products for evaluation.
The United States of America is also strongly represented in the international competition, with entries coming from 36 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
“Both in the U.S. and around the world, our Contest’s gold medal on the labels of award-winning cheese drives consumer purchases and boosts sales,” said Strohmenger. “Our Contest offers them the chance at a lucrative title with a guarantee of fair and impartial technical evaluation from a team of internationally-renowned judges.”
Entries are evaluated by a team of skilled technical dairy product judges selected from around the world. Judges consider flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish, packaging and other appropriate attributes. A gold medal, silver medal and bronze medal are awarded to the three highest scoring entries in each class.
New in 2020, the World Championship Cheese Contest will include 132 classes of dairy products, including new categories for dried milk and whey powders, which received 103 submissions. The brand new “extra-aged gouda” classification brought in a notable spike of gouda submissions, which increased by 35 percent compared to 2018.
“As trends in cheesemaking shift, so too do classes in the World Championship Cheese Contest,” said Strohmenger. “Ensuring that every cheese is fairly judged against the standards of its type ultimately ensures that when our judges name the Grand Champion, you know it truly is the best cheese in the world.”
In 2018, a hard sheep's milk cheese called Esquirrou made in France at Mauleon Fromagerie and imported by Savencia Cheese USA took top honors. The World Championship Cheese Contest, initiated in 1957, is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the world. For more information, visit WorldChampionCheese.org.