In September, Brazilian farmers made history at the latest edition of the World Cheese and Dairy Products Championship in Tours (Mondial du Fromage et des Produits Laitiers Tours), held in France. A group of 250 judges analyzed 1,640 cheeses; Brazil produces 288 of them in 12 states.
Brazilian cheeses won 84 medals in all, of which 20 went to farmers assisted by the Technical and Management Assistance (ATeG) program provided in Minas Gerais. These producers are supported by the Federation of Agriculture and Livestock of the State of Minas Gerais (FAEMG) to improve their products’ quality, processes, and profitability.
Leandro Siqueira Chaves was one of the award-winning producers from Minas Gerais. After winning a bronze medal in 2021, he took home a silver medal for the 2023 edition. The cheese recognized by the jury goes through a 60-day maturation process. “We are very pleased that our work, which is the result of a family business conveyed from parents to their children over four generations, has been acknowledged. I am very happy to see that our efforts and hard work as rural producers are being recognized abroad,” he said.
Izabela Fiorentini is also a prize winner, with the awarded cheese called Giovanna, after the farmer’s daughter. “It is an original cheese that is very similar to a French Reblochon, a very creamy one,” she describes it. “We want to innovate, embrace the cheese culture, and bring different products to the market. The Giovanna cheese proves that.”
The Tours Award didn’t just include Brazilian farmers. Consultants from the Minas Gerais ATeG program were also among the judges. Renata de Paoli is one of these consultants. She explains that to award the cheeses she had to assess visual and scent aspects, and others related to the texture and flavor of the crust and cheese itself.
The award’s 2023 edition evaluated the features of French cheeses, which is an advantage for farmers from Minas Gerais who are technically assisted. “With ATeG, the producer can improve the final product’s quality. As there is an improvement in the product’s quality, there is an improvement in yield and profitability. They will sell more due to their award and gain a better position in the market by adding value to the product. There are several advantages in scale.”
The award contestants also went on a cheese mission to France. The idea was to learn more about the country’s production processes and health and legal requirements.
“It was an outstanding experience and an opportunity to learn about a different culture of cheese production, especially the way French producers work and trade. With all this experience and at this difficult time regarding the chain with the prices paid for milk, we can give our cheesemakers a new production and marketing alternative to yield real gains,” said Ebinho Bernardes, FAEMG’s Vice-President and Secretary.