The UK’s first Virtual Cheese Awards returns

The Best British Cheese 2020 was Renegade Monk - a soft blue cow’s milk cheese from Feltham's Farm.

The UK’s pioneering Virtual Cheese Awards is set to return for a second year to continue its support and celebration of Britain’s innovative cheese industry.

The 2021 Virtual Cheese Awards will take place live online on Friday 7 May 2021 hosted by local food and drink champion and broadcaster, Nigel Barden.

The awards will increase from 300 to 400 individual entries across nine categories, with a total of 42 individual classes. Categories include Best Cheddar Cheese, Best Territorial, Best Blue and Best Speciality cheese as well as a new Dairy Free category.

An overall Best of British Cheese will be chosen from the winners of the seven main cheese categories.

This year sees the introduction of a new Recognising Excellence category that includes six classes including Most Innovative Cheese Packaging, Sustainability in Cheese production and Cheese Hero given to someone who has gone over and above to support the cheese industry.

Entries open on Friday 5 February 2021 with a closing date of 24 March 2021. Early bird prices are £35 per entry for the first 150 entries, rising to £45 per entry thereafter.

Sarah de Wit, founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards and Cheese & Dairy consultant said: “We’re proud to be returning with a bigger, better and even cheesier awards this year which will continue to support and celebrate our fantastic British cheese industry. We have a uniquely transparent and open judging process which was a great hit with producers last year, so entrants can see their cheese being judged live online!

“The Covid-19 pandemic is still negatively affecting so many producers, so we hope the Virtual Cheese Awards will act a beacon to showcase innovation and excellence.”

The inaugural Virtual Cheese Awards were launched in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic with the aim of filling the gap left by established industry cheese and dairy awards which were cancelled or postponed. It gave cheese producers a platform to promote their cheese, tell their story and connect a community of cheesemakers in a time of great upheaval.

The Best British Cheese 2020 was Renegade Monk – a soft blue cow’s milk cheese which is made from organic pasteurised cows milk and rind-washed in ale. Feltham’s Farm which produce the cheese saw some great success off the back of winning the awards in 2020 and continue to innovate with new cheeses.

Marcus Fergusson, founder of Feltham’s Farm which produces Renegade Monk, said:“Winning Best British Cheese at the first ever Virtual Cheese Awards was so thrilling, we never thought we’d win. It gave us renewed momentum and drive after we were hit hard through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We would recommend all producers to enter as it gave our business a real boost. We loved the transparency of the judging process which isn’t replicated in any other cheese awards. It was fascinating to hear all of the cheeses analysed by such knowledgeable and unflinching judges.”

The Virtual Cheese Awards 2021 will support British farmers and dairy producers by donating all profits to the Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

The awards has partnered with Speciality Food magazine, which has offered the Best of British winner a prize worth £4,000 to boost their business. This includes editorial and advertising in its magazine Speciality Food which will reach over 8,000 of the most important buyers in the UK and Ireland, along with a consumer feature in Great British Food Magazine.

Holly Shackleton, editor of Speciality Food, commented: “Speciality Food is proud to once again be supporting the Virtual Cheese Awards as media partner. These awards are genuinely pioneering in their use of technology and transparent judging processes, and we are delighted to continue to support and uplift the British cheese industry in this exciting way.”

The three finalists will also win a bespoke PR and social media consultation from food and drink comms specialists, North PR.

There will be one overall winner of Best of British cheese which will be chosen from the winners of the eight categories, which are;

·       Best Cheddar Cheese

·       Best Territorial Cheese

·       Best Blue Cheese

·       Best Enhanced Cheese

·       Best Speciality Cheese

·       Best Artisan Cheese

o   Artisan Farm Milk Trophy which ALPMA GB Ltd

·       Free From Cheese

·       Recognising Excellence – voted for by the public

o   Most Innovative Cheese Packaging

o   Best Accompaniment – Crackers

o   Best Accompaniment – Other

o   Trophy for Sustainability in Cheese Production

o   Cheese Hero – a person who has gone over and above to support the Cheese Industry or created an outstanding innovation.

All the cheeses which will be expertly judged online with final winners judged and revealed live online on Friday 7 May 2021.

Sponsors of the Virtual Cheese Award 2021 are:

  • Speciality Food Magazine
  • Great British Food Magazine
  • ALPMA GB Ltd
  • Wyke Farm
  • Joseph Heler
  • Food NI
  • Speciality Fine Food Fair
  • Speciality Food Magazine
  • Christyens
  • Butlers Farm
  • Orchard Valley

A variety of sponsorship packages are available for the awards, please contact;

·       Kara Bowen – [email protected] / 0773 4948481

·       Jeremy Bowen – [email protected] / 07967 515050

For more information on the Virtual Cheese Awards including how to enter, sponsor and a list of events, visit: www.virtualcheeseawards.com.

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