UK’s first virtual cheese awards launched to celebrate Great British cheesemakers

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30th June 2020

Good Sense Research are very pleased to be a part of the UK’s first Virtual Cheese Awards, which will take place on Saturday 18th July 2020. The 31 cheese classes include; Creamery Vintage Cheddar, Best Cheshire, Best Lancashire, Best Wensleydale, Best Stilton, Best Organic Hard cheese along with a range of Artisan classes. 

The Great British cheese industry is a vibrant, innovative and exciting industry with cheesemakers producing more than 700 diverse and delicious cheeses from traditional territorial cheeses like Stilton to continental inspired cheeses like British brie.

However, due to COVID-19 the annual cheese awards, which celebrate the best-of-the-best and help promote and celebrate new and interesting cheese to consumers, have all been postponed.

Not to be beaten, two veterans of the British cheese industry – with a combined 76 years of cheese industry experience – have joined forces to launch the UK’s first Virtual Cheese Awards – a not-for-profit event to celebrate, and raise money for, British cheese producers.

Sarah de Wit, co-founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards and Cheese & Dairy consultant said: “Covid-19 has put paid to all the big cheese shows and along with ongoing challenges cheese producers are facing to sell their produce, there is a real crisis for our much-loved industry. I really wanted to do something positive to help support cheesemakers across Britain and celebrate their fantastic cheeses.

“We want the Awards to be a real celebration of our vibrant cheese industry and show people behind the scenes of how we judge and taste cheese with some of UK’s best cheese personalities. There will be lots of interesting events taking place on the 18th July so if you love cheese and want to learn more about it, then please join us.”

The awards will focus on British cheese and include 31 classes which will be expertly judged online with the Category Judging and the Supreme Champion announced in a series of Live online events hosted by Nigel Barden, food and drink broadcaster on 18th July 2020. The Supreme Champion will be announced at 5pm on 18th July 2020.

Tickets for the Category Judging and the big Supreme Champion reveal on 18th July 2020 are available for a small donation now.

All profits from the awards will be donated to the Specialist Cheesemakers Association and RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) so they can continue to support British farmers and dairy producers.

Catherine Mead Chair of the Specialist Cheese Makers Association said: “The Virtual Cheese Awards are an extraordinary response to extraordinary times. In a normal year judges get together at a number of different shows to taste out literally thousands of amazing cheeses from across the globe to find the outstanding, the perfect, the best of the new and the familiar.

“Of course, this year there are no shows but in a world where we can connect online the Virtual Cheese Awards are a stunning alternative providing an excellent platform for tasting and celebrating cheese diversity and outstanding quality. The SCA is extremely grateful to the VCA for their generous offer to donate some of the proceeds from the entries to the SCA which will help support training, development and continuous improvement in British Specialty Cheese.”

Nigel Pooley, co-founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards and Cheese Grading & Product Quality Development Manager at Wyke Farms said: “I am passionate about our Great British cheese industry and we hope that these Virtual Cheese Awards will go some way in buoying up a somewhat struggling industry. We have been incredibly proud of the support which has already been shown by cheese producers who have pledged their support, whether to enter their cheeses or to sponsor it so we can make it a success.”

Robin Skailes Chairman of the Stilton Cheese Makers Association is supportive of the awards:

“It’s fantastic news that we will have the Virtual Cheese Awards this year. Cheese makers love entering their cheese into competitions and the Stilton makers are no different.  In a year with very few cheese awards it’s great that we will have a chance to gain recognition for excellent British cheese that I know takes so much time and work to produce.  Something to really look forward to.”

Key sponsors of the Virtual Cheese Awards so far are Wyke Farms, Saputo, Alpma and Wipak and with many other businesses supporting. There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available which start at a very affordable price to enable as many producers to be involved as possible with all profits being donated to charity.

The awards have partnered with Speciality Food magazine and Great British Food magazine which has offered the Supreme Champion a prize worth £4,000 to boost their business which includes editorial in their magazines.

For more information on the Virtual Cheese Awards including sponsorship and a list of events log on to: www.virtualcheeseawards.com

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