The 2021 Virtual Cheese Awards will take place live online on Friday May 7, 2021.
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 for dairy-free and vegan products.
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.
Sarah de Wit, founder of the Virtual Cheese Awards and cheese and 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 the community of cheesemakers.
The Best British Cheese 2020 award went to Renegade Monk - a soft blue cow’s milk cheese made from organic pasteurized cow’s milk and rind-washed in ale. Feltham’s Farm, which produces the cheese, said it saw success through winning the awards in 2020, and continues to create new cheeses.
Marcus Fergusson, founder of Feltham’s Farm, 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.”
The Virtual Cheese Awards 2021 will support British farmers and dairy producers by donating all profits to the Specialist Cheesemakers Association.
There will be one overall winner of Best of British cheese, which will be chosen from the winners of the eight categories.
Categories include Best Cheddar Cheese; Best Territorial Cheese; Best Blue Cheese; Best Enhanced Cheese; Best Speciality Cheese and Best Artisan Cheese.
Other awards include Free From Cheese, a Recognising Excellence award voted for by the public; Most Innovative Cheese Packaging; Best Accompaniment – Crackers; Best Accompaniment – Other; a trophy for Sustainability in Cheese Production; and Cheese Hero – a person who has gone over and above to support the Cheese Industry or created an outstanding innovation.
All the cheeses will be judged online, with final winners judged and revealed live online on May 7, 2021.
Entries cost £45 ($61.70) each with an early bird price of £35 ($48) for the first 150 entries. Deadline for cheese entries is March 24, 2021. Producers can enter online and details of where to send the cheese samples will be communicated.
For information on how to enter, visit www.virtualcheeseawards.com