U.S. Cheesemakers Win Big at 2024 World Cheese Championships

ARLINGTON, VA – The World Championship Cheese Contest awarded U.S. cheesemakers with an impressive 84 Best in Class finishes in Madison, Wisconsin – a stellar result for the United States. A total of 25 countries participated in this year’s competition, including Italy, the Netherlands and France. The complete list of winning cheeses can be found here.

Billed as the world’s premier technical cheese, butter, and yoghurt competition, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association has hosted the biennial contest since 1957.

Among the impressive showing by American cheesemakers, Schuman Cheese’s Lake Country Dairy processors in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, won both Best of Class and Second Award in the parmesan division, beating out an Italian competitor, and won top billing for its Cello Artisan extra aged asiago, ahead of a Danish entry. Additionally, Lactalis Belmont from Belmont, Wisconsin won top brie over a French processor, and U.S. cheesemakers swept the Havarti category, beating out two Danish contestants. These results are especially notable due to the European Union’s ongoing campaign to confiscate these cheese terms as geographical indications that can only be used by European producers.

“While the EU would like to think that its producers own the exclusive right to make and sell parmesan, havarti, asiago and other types of cheeses, it’s clear that U.S. and other cheesemakers can match their quality, and then some,” said Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names. “Just like in 2017 in the United Kingdom when an American parmesan won out over all other parmesan entries, including every Parmigiano Reggiano contestant, this year’s World Cheese Awards showed the strength of U.S. cheeses when unleashed to compete on a level playing field. We’re thrilled to see American cheesemakers get the recognition that they deserve, and we look forward to continuing to fight for them and their rights to sell their award-winning cheeses all around the world.”

As part of that fight, CCFN, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation have championed and supported the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, introduced last year to spur greater Administration-led action on common names. The SAVE Act has garnered broad industry and congressional support and is awaiting inclusion in the farm bill.

Longtime Common Names Advocate Jaime Castaneda Testifies Before Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

ARLINGTON, VA – Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) executive director Jaime Castaneda testified yesterday before U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) trade policy staff on the need for the U.S. government to proactively secure protections from trading partners that guarantee the right of producers to use common food and beverage names, such as “parmesan” or “feta.”

The public hearing complemented USTR’s annual Special 301 review, which aims to identify countries that are inadequately defending intellectual property (IP) rights. This review then informs USTR’s engagement on IP issues for the following year.

CCFN, with the support of its members and the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers, responded to the agency’s request for information in January, submitting comments that emphasized the need for the U.S. government on this issue, and reiterated how producers on-the-ground are negatively impacted when the European Union confiscates common names. Based on extensive research and feedback from membership, CCFN also detailed the specific markets that the Administration should prioritize work in to preserve export opportunities.

In his testimony today, Castaneda detailed how the European Union misuses geographical indications and why producers and exporters need the U.S. government to match the EU’s efforts on common names.

“The United States has unmatched economic and political influence – now is the time to use it,” said Castaneda during the hearing. “We applaud the Biden Administration for increasing the awareness with other countries to respect our agreements and their Intellectual Property rules. Yet, there is much more that can be done, and the U.S. government must intensify its support of U.S. farmers’ and manufacturers’ ability to compete fairly in foreign markets by securing firm and explicit commitments ensuring the future ability to use commonly used generic food and beverage terms that are being targeted by or at risk of EU monopolization efforts.”

As part of its mission to preserve the right to use generic food and beverage names, CCFN has championed the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, introduced last year to spur greater Administration-led action on common names. The SAVE Act has garnered broad industry and congressional support and is awaiting inclusion in the farm bill.

Read CCFN’s full comments here.