Changes mooted after Aldi win

Saffron Howden

THE Sydney Royal Dairy Awards could be overhauled after the global supermarket chain Aldi dominated this year's competition, causing an uproar among small and artisan cheesemakers.

While the Agricultural Society praised Germany-based Aldi's performance - it picked up 49 medals, including eight gold - the committee that governs the dairy show will meet next week and consider separating retailers and manufacturers in future.

''We do value the feedback we get from our contributors,'' said George Davey, the society's general manager of agriculture.

''And we may well introduce changes to better reflect what our exhibitors are expecting from the show.''

Mr Davey said all dairy produce entered, which must be Australian-made, was judged using the same point system by a panel of experts, including industry representatives, chefs and food writers.

''What our competitions actually do is lift the quality overall,'' he said.

But he said he would also like to see food labelling laws changed so the exact provenance of the food was acknowledged on packaging.

Fine cheese, butter and yoghurt manufacturers this week called for changes to the Sydney Royal Dairy Show judging system to pit generic brands against one another, leaving boutique producers in separate categories.

They argued the supermarket chains should not be allowed to use the awards to publicise the generic brands on their shelves.

Aldi, based at St Marys in Sydney's west, said 94 per cent of its stores' dairy products were Australian-made.

''The cheeses entered [in the dairy show awards] were expertly sourced from a number of regions throughout Australia, including Ashgrove in Tasmania, Bega in NSW and from Gippsland, Warrnambool and Cobram in Victoria,'' a supermarket spokeswoman said.

''All of our dairy suppliers must be able to consistently deliver a high-quality product.''