The judging of the South African dairy championships, the biggest dairy competition in Africa, took place at GrandWest in Cape Town today. This year saw 76 manufacturers entering a total of 882 dairy products in more than 100 different classes.
“This large number of entries is good news for the dairy industry, which is hampered by a sluggish economy and ongoing drought,” says Johan Ehlers, chief executive officer of Agri-Expo, organiser of the championships since 1834.
“It is encouraging that there are several first-time entries and that manufacturers are also entering new products in other classes, which indicates growth in product development,” he adds.
Industry recognises excellence
According to Ehlers, the sole purpose of the championships is to recognise and promote excellence in the dairy industry.
“The championships has become the benchmark for both large and small manufacturers to measure themselves against,” says Ehlers. “A team of 75 judges selects a South African champion in each class. Only a few products of exceptional quality are awarded the Qualité mark, which is recognised as the only mark of excellence for dairy products in South Africa. The product of the year is determined by a panel of five experts.”
Potential of agri-processing
Beverley Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, says the championships is an opportunity for agri-processors to compete nationally at a very high level of quality and innovation. “By promoting excellence, the awards stimulate greater demand and new product development that help grow this sector of our economy.”
According to Schäfer, the agri-processing sector is an important focus for the Western Cape: “Agri-processing has excellent growth and export potential, which in turn will help to grow our economy and create new jobs.”
The championships allow for continuity by including younger judges, such as previous participants in the Burgundy Cheese Makers Exchange Programme, a bilateral agreement between the Western Cape Government and the Burgundy Regional Government (co-ordinated by Agri-Expo). These former students today occupy senior positions in the industry and plough their expertise back in this manner.
The 2019 South African dairy championships was made possible through partnerships with Lake Foods, Santam Agriculture, the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) and The Dairy Mail. The winners will be announced at the Agri-Expo Qualité Awards Dinner at GrandWest in Cape Town on 29 March. – Press release