Aug. 21 2013 06:00 AM

Last week, judges sorted through hundreds of entries in this contest co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association and World Dairy Expo.

Dairy products from across the globe were shipped to Wisconsin to be judged at the annual World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Products Contest. This year, over 820 entries in the categories of cheese, butter, ice cream and more were submitted. The contest, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association and World Dairy Expo, has grown substantially since it began in 2003 with just 100 entries.

This year's contest was held last week in Madison, Wis., and a total of 28 judges from across the U.S. analyzed the entries. The judging process took place over a three-day period - one day for cheese, one for Grade A products and one for ice cream and whey.

The culmination of the contest is the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Products auction, which will be held Tuesday, October 1, during World Dairy Expo. Winners will fly in from all over the U.S. to attend. All of the first place entries will be sold, and proceeds from the auction will be used to fund scholarships for college students, support educational activities and defray contest costs.

This contest is unique from other dairy contests because it incorporates all types of dairy products. It began as just an idea for Brad Legreid, executive director of the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association (WDPA). The WDPA was started 40 years ago and works on behalf of producers in the areas of regulation and legislation, as well as offering educational opportunities to producers and processors. Legreid was looking for a way the association could better promote its members and their products, and thus the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Products Contest was born.

Partnering with World Dairy Expo lends creditability to the contest, which has been a big plus for WDPA. It has also been a valuable relationship for World Dairy Expo, helping spread their reach to Canada, Mexico and other international audiences. Supporting the contest and holding the auction during World Dairy Expo brings a processor presence to the show as well. Since about two-thirds of all U.S. milk is made into some type of dairy product, the product processing business is obviously an important part of the dairy industry as a whole.

You can read more about the World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Products Contest in the September 10, 2013, issue of Hoard's Dairyman.
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The author is an associate editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master's degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor's from University of Wisconsin-Madison.