Aldi awards grate

When supermarket giant Aldi won big at this year's Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Cheese and Dairy Produce Show, there was an outcry from small cheese producers.

RAS NSW general manager of agriculture George Davey sees Aldi's awards as a measure of quality, saying Aldi has ''sourced good product from regional cheese producers''. He welcomes the feedback, saying it enables the RAS to keep refining and improving the judging criteria and competition.

But Michael McNamara, from Pecora Dairy in the southern highlands of NSW, believes the RAS charter is to support agriculture and regional communities. ''A rebranded food product denies the producer the ability to build brand equity,'' he says.

Aldi products were awarded a total of 49 medals in a range of dairy classes, including butter, yoghurt, dairy dessert, cream and ice-cream. Eleven medals were awarded for cheeses, including semi-mature and vintage cheddar, ricotta, fetta and processed slices.

According to a spokesperson from Aldi Australia, the company identifies where the cheese is made on some of its products and plans to review its packaging further.

As McNamara points out, artisan cheese producers still won the most coveted awards, including for champion cheese.