Having extended Oviedo’s tenure as World Cheese Capital following the event’s postponement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 33rd edition of the competition will now form part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021, run by the Instituto del Queso, in partnership with the Principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo.
The World Cheese Awards will be at the heart of a four-day festival from November 3 to 6, dedicated to cheese, staged at Oviedo’s Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos (PEC).
The competition itself is set to be bigger and more international than ever before, following the record-breaking 3,804 entries from 42 different countries judged in Bergamo, Italy in 2019.
The International Cheese Festival will present a program of events for trade and consumer visitors, including an exhibition, the second Scientific Forum for Dairy Innovation, tours of the World Cheese Awards judging arena, experimental tasting sessions, an Asturex Agrifood Forum, an Origin Zone (exploring European Quality Schemes such as PGIs and PDOs), a cheese market and a Gastro Cheese Comedy line-up.
John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, which organizes the World Cheese Awards, said, “Following the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, we’re delighted to be making plans for the World Cheese Awards’ return to Spain. The cheese world has felt the economic impact of Covid-19 in a big way, followed by a huge outpouring of public support in many countries, so this year’s competition holds greater significance than ever before.
“Not only will it be an opportunity for the cheese community to reconnect, share experiences and do business, but the awards themselves will provide hard-earned recognition for those cheesemakers who have gone above and beyond to keep their craft alive. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such committed partners in the Instituto del Queso, the Principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo, as the competition faced its first ever postponement in over three decades. We’re now looking forward to working with them to stage the biggest cheese-only event the world has ever seen, using this as catalyst for the revitalization of the region’s restaurants, food producers and tourism industry.”
Luisa Villegas, Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival director and CEO of Instituto del Queso, said, “It is necessary to create a professional space for the different agents who will turn cheese into a food of excellence for the whole value chain. The main goal is to achieve interactions between those professionals to take a qualitative leap forward for the cheese sector. Asturias is Spain’s most important dairy region, highly qualified to lead the movement for cheese positioning as an essential food for the future.
“This international festival is based on sustainability, where producers, researchers, investment agents and public and private entities will meet in Oviedo. This festival will host the world’s most important professionals from these sectors. It is an honor for the Instituto del Queso to organize the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021, thanks to the support of public institutions and local agents from tourism and retail.”