A farmer-owned creamery is on top of the world after three of its cheeses won global awards.
South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC) scooped the hat-trick of gold prizes at the prestigious International Cheese and Dairy Awards 2022 where its Mature White Cheddar, Caerphilly and Red Leicester triumphed against tough opposition.
The accolades crowned a remarkable run of success for the co-operative based in Chwilog, near Pwllheli.
The creamery has also picked up a bumper crop of awards in competitions across the UK, with a glittering haul of 22 gold medals,15 silvers and 12 bronzes.
Other achievements included wins at the Royal Highland Show where it gained golds with mature white cheddar and salted butter, and at Mid Somerset Show where it was victorious with seven varieties of cheese and its salted butter.
Earlier this summer SCC also celebrated a spectacular appearance at the Royal Welsh Show in July, collecting seven gold awards for its Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Wensleydale, and Coloured Mild Cheddar, as well as for its Reduced Fat cheese and Half Fat cheese while the creamery’s Dragon butter stole the show with the Supreme Champion title.
There was more success for its salted butter at the Great Taste Awards where it was awarded one star.
Head Cheese Grader Shôn Jones, who is also a respected judge at cheese shows, said the victories at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards in Staffordshire were an “unmistakable stamp of recognition” of quality in cheesemaking.
He said: “It is a real boost commercially as it enhances our reputation for producing supreme products – cheese of a standard to match and surpass any of our competitors around the world.”
“We’ve had a good run over the last few years to be honest. But it’s a huge coup for us to gain a hat-trick at the International in the first year when all the shows are back to live format again following the pandemic.
“Then to follow it up by collecting an armful of awards at the Royal Welsh is icing on the cake.
“It’s credit to the hard work which everyone involved puts in to help us make the highest standard of products we can.
“All our farmers adhere to the industry recognised Red Tractor assurance standards for milk production, and our cheese graders are on site constantly grading all our cheese to ensure it reaches maximum potential.
“Our methods are undoubtedly paying off and our name is now being heralded around the world.”
It was view endorsed by New Products Developer Trystan Povey who said: “It means we are not just seen as a Welsh company but as a global company, capable of making cheeses and butters to tempt the tastebuds of increasingly important international markets.”
Shôn and Trystan now have their sights firmly set on achieving more success later in the year at the World Cheese Awards 2022 at the International Convention Centre Wales, in Newport, Cardiff, on November 1 and 2.
The awards, hosted by the Guild of Fine Food, were originally scheduled to be held in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine this autumn but the venue had to be hastily re-arranged after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Shôn said: “It is still hoped that Ukrainian farmers will be able to be represented at the event and I think the organisers will certainly plan on paying tribute to the Ukrainian nation.”
It will be the 34th year that the World Cheese awards have been held.
Shôn grades the variety of SCC cheeses on a daily basis, checking attributes including texture, colour and appearance as well as the all-important taste profile.
He started working for the co-operative 25 years ago and became increasingly interested in the grading and monitoring process
Shôn has also been involved in judging cheeses, including for eight years at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards, and his experience and knowledge of what judges are looking for is invaluable to SCC.
Trystan also has experience as an assistant judge, though neither of them can judge their co-operative’s own products.
Shôn said: “Everything is judged blind at all the top shows unless it is a brand category in which case we will know who the producers are. But when it comes to general categories it is all unlabelled. We assess how the cheeses are presented, texture, maturity and taste.”