The Cheese Board Awards

Glanbia Ireland Cheddar sweeps the boards at the International Cheese and Dairy awards

Glanbia Ireland Cheddar proved to be a top hit with the judges at this year’s International Cheese and Dairy Awards, scooping six Gold, 4 silver and four bronze medals.

Employees at the Ballyragget and Wexford Cheese plants have cheesy grins for a reason – they were awarded the medals along with three prestigious trophies at the international awards held in Staffordshire UK.

The accolades were received across all categories - mild, medium, mature, extra mature & vintage. The Glanbia Ireland plant in Ballyragget won the prestigious Kerrygold Cup which is awarded annually for the best Irish Cheddar.

The winning block was selected from the Kilmeaden Fillet Range. The Wexford plant was awarded the DSM Trophy for the best Vintage cheddar, along with the ICDA award for the best overseas creamery block.            

Gerry Warren, Glanbia Ireland Cheese Grader said: “We are delighted to have achieved such a strong performance at this year’s internationals awards. We were up against stiff competition from both Irish and UK cheddar producers.

“Great credit is due to the talented staff in both plants. They take great pride in their work and their attention to detail ensures that we deliver top quality cheddar to our much-valued customers.

“The judges found that the texture and flavour of our cheddar really stood out, and this is down to the quality of the milk which we receive from our dedicated dairy farmers.

“Great credit is due to the management and staff in both plants, together with everyone in the supply chain who continue to produce and deliver top quality product in these difficult and challenging times.”

Gerry Warren has 7 years’ experience as a cheese grader at Glanbia Ireland. He also tasted cheese in his previous role in homes sales, now known as Glanbia Consumer Foods.  

‘’In my role as Butter store Manager in Ballyragget I would have assisted the Department of Agriculture in grading butter, this would have involved tasting the butter looking at moisture etc, Not too unlike my present role in grading cheese.’’

“Grading is all about using your senses. To grade and evaluate cheddar/cheese you use sight, touch, smell, and taste. You need to understand and be aware of your customers’ needs and select and manage stock to meet their requirements.

“For cheese grading it is important to have a good palate (taste) by understanding cheddar/cheese manufacturing from production right down to the maturation and ripening of the cheese. Knowledge of the raw material (milk) is also important as it can affect the quality, taste, and texture of the cheddar. Stock management can also play a significant role when it comes to mature, fully mature and vintage cheddar/cheese,” Gerry revealed.

Gerry honed his skill by shadowing previous cheese graders. “I shadowed them and found it very informative. I also spent another 2 years learning from Bernard Ruttledge.  I carry out joint grades with other customer graders where we learn from each other by discussing and analysing results. You learn new things every day working as a grader – you are constantly improving.”

While Gerry mainly grades cheddar, he has also judged and graded other cheeses at various shows throughout his career. “The most prestigious show I would have judged was the International Cheese show at Nantwich where I would have judged entries from all over the world,” he revealed.