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Australian cheese and dairy producers have been left bitterly disappointed as global supermarket chain Aldi dominated at the annual Sydney Royal dairy awards.
Based in Germany and running stores throughout Europe, the United States, Britain and Australia, Aldi picked up a total of 49 medals and was crowned the most successful dairy produce exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW 2013 Cheese and Dairy Produce Show awards, which has been running for more than 150 years.
Local producers of fine cheese, butter and yogurt are enraged by the judging system, insisting that individual cheese and dairy crafters be judged separately to generic brands.
Cheesemaker at Pecora Dairy in Robertson, NSW and treasurer of the Australian Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association, Michael McNamara believes the Royal Agricultural Society is “shooting itself in the foot” and the awards need to be reviewed.
"The awards have become a parody of themselves if what they're taking is big, industrial products and putting them in the same category as hand-made, artisan products," he told media.
Despite Pecora Dairy taking out a number of medals at the awards this year, Mr McNamara believes that by judging mass-produced cheeses in the same category as hand-crafted products, the RAS is failing to encourage the growth of rural communities.
"It doesn't help farmers and it doesn't help farmers and it doesn't help create a vital, small producer industry in agriculture out there," he told media.
Mr McNamara is not the only person to be cheesed off by the RAS. Supplier of butter to Niel Perry’s Rockpool, Aria restaurant and Qantas first class, Pepe Saya refused to enter the awards after Coles began entering its mass produced brands.
"I don't believe that a non-manufacturer or non-producer should be allowed to leverage off the Sydney Royal bran," Mr Saya told media.
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