Ukrainian cheeses won awards at the World Cheese Awards

The World Cheese Awards (hereafter WCA) is the largest cheese competition in the world. It has been held since 1988 in different countries around the world: this year it was the 35th anniversary event, which took place on 27-28 October in Trondheim, Norway. Back in 2022, the competition was scheduled to be held in Ukraine. But as long as the russian invasion continues, the WCA in Ukraine has been postponed.  

This year, cheeses from Ukraine took part in the international competition for the second time, and this year there were 23 cheese contestants from producers from different parts of the country. This became possible thanks to Ardis Group and their ProCheese department, the official representatives of Ukraine at WCA, with the support of Switzerland within the Swiss-Ukrainian program “Higher Value Added Trade from the Organic and Dairy Sectors in Ukraine” (Quality FOOD Trade Program), as well as the WNISEF

As a result, 13 Ukrainian cheeses have received various awards for the second time, and two of them have received the Gold award. 

“For the second year in a row, Ukrainian cheeses have been winning the hearts of the global cheese community. 13 awards is a great result at such a large-scale competition. I sincerely congratulate all the participants and winners. You help the world to discover Ukraine as a country of brave and professional people,” said Oksana Chernova, ProCheese cheese expert and judge from Ukraine at the World Cheese Awards. 

Bronze award was given to: 

  • “Lel’'”, Kirovohrad region — smoked mozzarella; 
  • “Zinka”, Kyiv region — Gouda with paprika, Semi-hard cheese of medium maturity, and Camembert-type cheese with white mold made from goat’s milk;  
  • “Syroman”, Kyiv region — cheese with white mold made from goat’s milk and with the addition of beetroot “Sofia”.   

The Silver award was given to: 

  • “Harbuzovyi rai” (Pumpkin Paradise), Lviv region — fresh aged cheese “Hoverla” and cheese with white mold “Lisova Pisnia”; 
  • “Mukko”, Lviv region — aged cheese “Staryi Stryi with coffee”, semi-hard cheese “Mukko with truffle”;  
  • “Zinka”, Kyiv region — hard aged Ukrainian cheese;   
  • “Dzhersey”, Lviv region — “Massimo” cheese with a washed rind.  

Cheeses awarded with Gold: 

  • “Stanislavska Syrovarnya”, Ivano-Frankivsk region — goat semi-hard cheese “Motrya”; 
  • “Zinka”, Kyiv region — aged goat cheese “Hard with fenugreek”. 

A list of all Ukrainian cheeses participating in the competition can be found in the Cheese Guide 2023 at the link.   

A video review of how Ukrainian cheeses were presented at the World Cheese Awards 2023 can be found here.  

To review all the insights and challenges that took place during the competition, a press conference was held in Kyiv on 10 November 2023: “Another victory for the cheese industry — Ukrainian cheeses won awards at the World Cheese Awards”. 

The speakers of the press conference were: 

  • Oksana Chernova — Judge of the World Cheese Awards, cheese expert at ProCheese, Ardis Group;  
  • Iryna Vysotska — Coordinator of the Dairy Sector component of the Swiss-Ukrainian program “Higher Value Added Trade from the Organic and Dairy Sectors in Ukraine” (Quality Food Trade Program);  
  • Vitaliy Bigdai — Director of the SME Development Program at WNISEF; 
  • Vita Oliynyk — Deputy Head of Farm, “Zinka” TM, winner of five awards, including one Gold award;  
  • Solomiya Bratakh — Co-founder of the “Harbuzovyi Rai” cheese factory, winner of two Silver awards;    
  • Christabel Kearns — Chief Operating and Marketing Officer, Guild of Fine Food, World Cheese Awards (online);  
  • Andreas Levstad Tranoy — Project Manager at the Norwegian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce (online); 
  • Natalia Kagadiy — Director of ProCheese, Ardis Group. 

“For more than five years, we have been building partnerships in the global dairy ecosystem to be able to adequately present Ukrainian cheeses on the world stage,” said Natalia Kagadiy, moderator of the press conference, Director of ProCheese, Ardis Group.  

She emphasised that one of the company’s main goals is to present Ukrainian cheeses to the world and tell about Ukrainian enterprises and their capabilities. 

During organising Ukraine’s participation in the competition, there were many challenges faced. Thanks to the support of the Norwegian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and the assistance of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, Ukrainian cheeses were allowed to participate in the largest international competition. 

The first speaker at the press conference, Christabel Kearns, Chief Operating and Marketing Officer of the Guild of Fine Food, who organises the World Cheese Awards, shared that this year there were less Ukrainian cheesemakers represented than last year, but the number of our awards increased to 54%. She also noted that this is a fantastic achievement.  

Iryna Vysotska, Coordinator of the Dairy Sector component of the QFTP, noted that despite all the risks associated with the war and food security, the quality of milk in Ukraine is improving, which is an important prerequisite for participation in an international competition of this scale. Each victory like this is a great start to the highest goal of developing the export potential of small and medium-sized enterprises in Ukraine. Iryna also emphasised that such competitions develop the dairy sector and create a demand for quality products among consumers. 

Within the QFTP, Switzerland has been supporting Ukrainian cheeses at the World Cheese Awards for the second year in a row. The QFTP aims to increase the trade potential of Ukrainian products and improve access to domestic and export markets for small and medium-sized enterprises by improving product quality, creating added value, and developing the capacity of service providers in the dairy sector.  

Sincere congratulations to all the winners and participants from Ukraine, who demonstrated the highest level of their cheese craftsmanship and represented our country with dignity in the international arena! The World Cheese Awards proved that freedom tastes great!