On Wednesday (13), the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) awarded the 15 best artisanal cheeses in the country. More than 90 producers took part in the selection with cheeses from 13 states: Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Sergipe.
The winners were presented in three categories: “artisanal with heat treatment,” “artisanal with 30 to 180 days of ripening,” and “artisanal with condiments.” The cheeses went through technical evaluation and popular jury voting. The award also rated the products’ history, which took into account traditional knowledge, contributions to the rural producer’s economic autonomy, environmental sustainability, and the products’ variations or original aspect.
Sander Willem Verburg’s Cornélia cheese won first prize in the categories “artisanal with 30 to 180 days of ripening” and “artisanal cheese with condiments.” The producer from Arapoti (Paraná state) said it was a surprise to be awarded twice. His Gouda cheese has origins in the Netherlands, his grandmother’s birth country. “When I entered the award, the intention was just to know how the technical jury would evaluate my products. I am thrilled and want to thank especially my mother, who taught me the technique that has been passed from generation to generation,” he says.
The Lendário da Generosa Parmesan cheese won first prize in “heat treatment” and third among the selected cheeses in the “30 to 180 days of ripening” category. Its producer, Joaquim Luiz de Carvalho, from Andrelândia (Minas Gerais state), dedicated the victory to his team and family. “Today is a different day, we are very thrilled and honored by the award. Thank you, CNA, for providing this in our lives,” he said.
The Cana Velha Tradicional cheese, from São Brás do Suaçuí (Minas Gerais), also won in two categories, with second prize in “heat treatment” and fourth in “flavored and/or spiced artisanal.” “It was a pleasure for us to take part in the award. We hope that with your support we can improve our products and put Minas Gerais and Brazil on the world map,” said producer Larissa Silva Melo.
In a live ceremony on CNA’s YouTube channel, the entity’s President, João Martins, highlighted the importance of dairy farming, explaining that this award was held to strengthen national milk production, stimulate the formalization of producers, and expand the market opportunities for artisanal cheeses. “The CNA/SENAR System has always worked to preserve and acknowledge these traditions in their diversity. This sector is booming with great growth opportunities, and we hope the award will give visibility and improve the sales of these products,” he said.
The award is part of the actions from the Traditional and Artisanal Foods Program of the CNA/SENAR System to value products. This edition was a partnership of CNA with the Agricultural Research Company of Minas Gerais (EPAMIG) and the Brazilian Support Service for Micro and Small Companies (SEBRAE).
Find the score for each cheese here.