The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News

  • Contests Show U.S. Cheese Among World's Best

    By Angélique Hollister May 25, 2016

    Fresh off a win at the World Championship Cheese Contest, the United States has rightfully earned its place among the best cheese-making countries in the world. 

    Earlier this spring, the United States won a large majority of the medals awarded at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, proving it can compete with the world’s best cheeses. 

    medals6-929025-edited.jpgExpert judges from 16 different countries critiqued 2,959 cheeses from 23 countries. Of these, only 330 cheeses, or 11 percent, won medals. Three out of four medal-winners were from the United States.

    For the first time since 1988, the top award in the contest went to an U.S. cheese, a smear-ripened hard cheese from Emmi Roth USA, located in south central Wisconsin. 

    The World Championship Cheese Contest is held on an every-other-year basis. Based on medals, the United States is good and getting even better. In 2012, the United States took home 65.9 percent of the medals; in 2014, 69.3 percent, and in 2016, 74.8 percent.

    Validation from the World Cheese Awards

    At another competition, the World Cheese Awards last fall in Europe, the United States came in third place with a total of 83 medals, beating several notable cheese-making countries in their own backyard. For example, the United State defeated Italy in the parmesan category, the United Kingdom in cheddar and France, Italy and Denmark in blue cheeses. 

    Middle East chefs change minds about high-end U.S. cheeses

    Medals and awards are not the only indicator of success. Influential chefs from the Middle East who visited Wisconsin on a USDEC reverse trade mission said they were impressed by the quality of high-end U.S. cheeses.Chef.jpg

    "This surprises me, for sure," said Hazma Mortada, executive sous chef at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. "It is my pleasure to meet this beautiful line of cheeses (offered at Sartori Cheese in east-central Wisconsin)." 

    Bruno Troesch, executive chef at Emirates Flight Catering, called the trip an "eye-opener." 

    "If any of my colleagues in Dubai ask me about my trip to the United States and what I've seen and learned about U.S. cheese, I will openly tell them to start changing their minds, start thinking about American cheeses and start maybe tasting some American cheese... and see if they can use it in their operations," he said.

    Sebastian Nohse, culinary director for the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, called the trip "an eye-opener."

    "I knew about Wisconsin cheddar, but that was all I knew about," he said. Now that he has learned about artisan cheeses in the United States, he sees opportunities for those products "because the quality there can hold up to any other top qualities from other countries in the world and the flavors are quite distinctive and different." 

    Eager to buy U.S. cheese

    If they can find consistent suppliers, the chefs visiting Wisconsin said they are eager to introduce high-end U.S. cheeses to their clients.

    cheese34-471437-edited.jpg"If tomorrow, I could have access to the artisan cheese I tried here, I have no doubts that I could start introducing something different," said Carlos Delos Mozos, expert chef from the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dubai.

    Even though all of the chefs work in the Middle East/North Africa, many of them were originally from Europe and had worked in various EU countries. 

    Years of perfecting a craft

    The U.S. cheese industry started in the 19th century with European settlers who brought along their cheese-making skills when starting over in the New World. Since then, U.S. cheesemakers haven't stopped perfecting their craft.

    According to international contests and the opinions of highly respected chefs, the United States is delivering some of the world's best cheeses today.

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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post. 

    Cheese Global Marketing
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