AMPI Medium Cheddar, Parmesan named champions
NEW ULM, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2016) — The cheesemakers of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) made history at the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Championship Cheese Contest. Their entries were named champions in both the Cheddar and Italian divisions, with the Cheddar being named the overall best cheese in the competition. It is the first time the two division honors were earned by the same co-op in a single year, according to contest officials.
Medium Cheddar made at AMPI’s plant in Blair, Wis., was named best of class in the highly competitive Cheddar division and recipient of the Chairman’s Plaque for the best overall entry. Best of class in the Italian division went to Parmesan made at AMPI’s Hoven, S.D., plant.
Making award-worthy cheese is the daily standard at AMPI, said Mark Frederixon, a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker who manages the plant where the champion Cheddar was manufactured.
“We don’t make special cheese for contests. This is the quality of product we’re making every day,” he said.
The key ingredient in award-winning cheese is exceptional milk, added Kevin Hageman, manager of AMPI’s Hoven facility. The north central South Dakota plant specializes in making Hard Italian cheeses such as Parmesan and Romano.
“Our skilled cheesemakers use high-quality milk from AMPI member farms to create superior artisan cheese,” he said.
AMPI earned awards in five categories at the national contest held in conjunction with NMPF’s joint annual meeting with the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and United Dairy Industry Association in Nashville, Tenn. Cooperatives from across the country participate in the annual contest to showcase their top products.
In addition to the competition’s highest recognition, cheese made at AMPI plants also received the following awards:
• First, Medium Cheddar – Blair, Wis.
• First, Processed American Plain – Portage, Wis.
• First, Processed American Flavored – Portage, Wis.
• Second, Processed American Plain – Portage, Wis.
• Third, Sharp Cheddar – Blair, Wis.
• Third, Processed American Flavored – Portage, Wis.
• First, Hard Italian (Parmesan) – Hoven, S.D.
• Second, Hard Italian (Romano) – Hoven, S.D.
“It’s a privilege to have the industry recognize the care we put into making cheese with these awards,” said Marshall Reece, AMPI’s vice president of sales and marketing. “It is rewarding to know that AMPI is providing our customers with the very best cheese.”
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn. The cooperative’s members annually market about 5.9 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.7 billion in sales. AMPI owns 10 Midwest-based manufacturing plants where 10 percent of the nation’s American-type cheese, butter, dried whey and sliced American cheese is produced. The cooperative’s award-winning dairy products are marketed to foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.
A Medium Cheddar produced by AMPI cheesemakers in Blair, Wis., was named best overall and received the Chairman’s Award of the National Milk Producers Federation Championship Cheese Contest in Nashville, Tenn. Receiving the champion and first place ribbons of several AMPI entries in the contest were, from left, AMPI Co-President and CEO Donn DeVelder, New Ulm, Minn.; AMPI Board Member Bruce Brockshus, Ocheyedan, Iowa; AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen, Albany, Minn.; AMPI Board Member Brad Nevin, Rice Lake, Wis.; AMPI Board Member Doug Temme, Wayne, Neb.; AMPI Co-President and CEO Sheryl Meshke, New Ulm, Minn.; and AMPI Board Member Doug Carroll, Ryan, Iowa.