NEW ULM, Minn. — Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) continued its reign as the nation’s top Cheddar cheese maker with first-place finishes in highly competitive classes of the World Dairy Expo (WDE) Championship Dairy Product Contest. Leading the way were Mild Cheddar and Sharp Cheddar entries, crowned best in class.
“These latest awards confirm what our customers already know: When it comes to making Cheddar cheese, AMPI is king,” said Mike Hinrichsen, vice president of cheese and whey manufacturing. “This is a testament to the collaboration between the co-op’s skilled cheesemakers and our dairy farmer-owners who supply ideal milk for making exceptional cheese.
This year AMPI earned a trifecta of top Cheddar honors, receiving first-place awards in major industry competitions for Co-op Crafted® Mild, Medium and Sharp Cheddar cheeses. In February, a Medium Cheddar produced by AMPI cheesemakers was named best in its class and second runner-up overall in the 2023 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
In the final World Dairy Expo tally, AMPI claimed seven, top-three finishes in the contest. Along with earning the top spot in the Mild Cheddar class entries from AMPI’s Jim Falls, Wis., facility claimed first and second place in the whey category. Pepper Jack and Colby Jack cheeses made at Jim Falls were honored with second- and third-place awards, respectively. The first-place Sharp Cheddar and a third-place Aged Cheddar were crafted by cheesemakers at the co-op’s Blair, Wis., facility.
Regarded as one of the country’s most prestigious dairy products competitions, this year’s WDE Championship Dairy Product Contest attracted entries from dairy processors in 43 states.
AMPI’s seven top finishers will be among the award-winning products honored at a ceremony on Oct. 3 at the 56th World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The co-op’s first-place entries will be auctioned that evening with proceeds funding scholarship programs focused on dairy education.
AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI is the largest farmer-owned cheese cooperative in the U.S. The cooperative’s cheese, butter and powdered dairy products are marketed to foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers. The co-op launched its Dinner Bell Creamery® brand and accompanying Co-op Crafted® promise in 2019, highlighting more than 50 years of dairy farm families partnering with skilled dairy craftsmen to make great-tasting, award-winning products.