World Cheese Awards with Alex and Rocco

In October, Rocco Cardinale, Vice-President of Marketing, and Alex Gutknecht, Export Sales Manager, journeyed from Arizona in the western United States to attend the World Cheese Awards. Rocco and Alex supported efforts of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), promoting the quality and variety of U.S. cheeses to the world.

USDEC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance global demand for dairy products from the United States. With support and expertise from dairy trade specialists, academic and policy experts, and marketing professionals, USDEC works with members to identify and capitalize on opportunities in the global marketplace.

For 2019, the World Cheese Awards traveled to Italy for the first time in its 32 year history. It was held in Bergamo, in the north, in conjunction with the city’s annual FORME festival and the B2Cheese international trade show. The scale of the competition continued to expand, reaching its largest size ever this year. 3,804 cheeses from 42 different countries were sampled and judged by panels comprised of 260 cheese experts and aficionados from around the world.

The competition occurred on Friday October 18. At the end of the intense day of multiple rounds of judging, 2 cheeses stood exactly tied. By final vote of the Chairman of Judges, Rogue River Blue from the Rogue Creamery in Oregon, USA edged out Latteria Sociale Santo Stefano’s Parmigiano Reggiano. This was a shocking result for many conference attendees – for it marked the first time a cheese from the United States had ever taken the top award. 

2019 World Cheese Awards, Cheese Lab

Hochland experienced a wonderful success in the competition. Hochland sourcing partner Greek Family Farm’s feta was awarded a gold medal – one of only 2 fetas in the entire competition to achieve this standard. Hochland brand Patros sources and uses this feta in a variety of Patros products. 

Rocco and Alex took time to reflect upon their experiences. “The opportunity to taste and learn about so many cheeses from around the world in just a few days was an incredible experience,” observed Rocco. “It has expanded my knowledge of consumer tastes and flavor profiles, which I’m sure will inform the development of new products and future innovations at Franklin Foods.” 

Alex, also a Franklin Foods representative to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, adds, “Representing both U.S. Dairy Council – along with my fellow dairy council members – and Franklin Foods at such a prestigious event was a real honor. Especially to be part of such a historic accomplishment and moment for the U.S. Cheese Industry in winning the top prize – that was fantastic.”

“The United States has a tremendous history of artisan cheesemaking, as well as industry-wide creativity to satisfy and serve global markets,” Rocco elaborates. “But that story is not well known outside of the United States. Both Alex and I were honored to be part of USDEC’s efforts to spread our message and amplify the spotlight on cheesemaking in America.”