Non EU-Nations Take the Gold on Parmesan, Feta, Asiago and Other Cheeses

May 29th, 2018

cheese-world-championshipsExtraordinary common-name cheeses battled for gold at the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, Wisconsin, in March. Initiated in 1957, this is reportedly the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the world. A team of 56 internationally renowned judges rated more than 3,400 cheeses from 26 nations at the 2018 competition, and the results once again demonstrated the high quality and strong tradition of cheesemakers within and outside the EU that make parmesan, feta and other common name cheeses.

Canada beat out France in the camembert category, which raised some eyebrows and led one food publication to write, “Canada Horrifies France by Winning World Camembert Competition”, and a French food publication to ask, “How can it be?”.

A hard sheep’s milk cheese made in France at Mauleon Fromagerie was named the 2018 World Champion Cheese. But U.S. cheesemakers earned gold medals in 87 of the 121 contest classes; Switzerland came in second with nine golds, and cheesemakers in The Netherlands earned seven golds.

Common name cheeses including mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, asiago, feta, munster, havarti, brie and gorgonzola were all on the judging tables. Among these, non-EU nations were the clear winners, taking gold in all these categories. Even the highly disputed “parmesan” category, which featured an entry from Parma, Italy, was dominated by non-EU cheesemakers; a U.S. cheesemaker received the gold.

Interestingly, some European nations won awards for cheeses that – according to EU purists – they aren’t supposed to be making. Feta – supposedly owned by the Greeks – saw competition from Denmark, Austria, the U.S. and Canada. In fact, a Danish company won gold for flavored feta. Gorgonzola – supposedly owned by the Italians – saw competition from Denmark and the United States.