At the SA Dairy Awards gala dinner, the finest cheesemakers, chocolatiers and innovators in the industry were recognised.
Dairy Products committee chair Darryl Freer said this year had 382 entries from 46 exhibitors, which were judged blind by an expert panel.
Among those honoured on the night was former SA Dairyfarmers’ Association chief executive officer Ken Lyons, who received the Brenton Higgins Memorial Trophy for exceptional service to the dairy industry.
Mr Lyons first got involved in the dairy industry, following years in grains and fishing, in 2000 – during the period of deregulation.
He was initially appointed for a three-month contract to the SADA board to see if he could improve its finances.
“Every time I was about to leave SADA the board would come up with a new situation they wanted solved and I ended up staying for the next 16 years,” he said.
Mr Lyons retired from SADA in March last year but has remained connected to the sector as the SA Dairy Fund chief officer.
Looking back across his time in the dairy industry, Mr Lyons’ warmest memories relate to the resilience of the industry and the way it can come together to tackle tough times.
He said as the state’s industry faced deregulation, different segments of the sector – including government, processors and industry groups – came together to form the SA Dairy Industry Development Board.
“It served us well,” he said.
“Brenton Higgins was very much a part of that body.”
The second was in 2012, as the industry suffered through a downturn, with a decline in investment.
It was out of this teamwork that the SA Dairy Industry Fund was established, with the goal to invest money in projects specific to building up the dairy industry.
“We formed a strategy and came up with the dairy industry fund and it has proved to be something of considerate value,” he said.
Mr Lyons said a particular project just agreed on was to jointly fund, with DairySA, a wellbeing project to support dairyfarmers.
Trophies from the awards will be on display at the Dairy Food Hall during the Royal Adelaide Show next month, while all gold medal winners will be eligible to enter the prestigious Australian Grand Dairy Awards, which are announced next February.
Major trophy winners:
- Champion cheddar cheese: Beston Pure Foods – Edwards Crossing cloth bound cheddar
- Champion hard or semi-hard variety, other than cheddar: Lion Dairy & Drinks – Heidi Farm gruyere
- Champion soft cheese: Woodside Cheese Wrights – Kris Lloyd Artisan Harlequin washed rind triple cream
- Champion cheese from small-scale producer: Section28 Artisan Cheeses – Section28 Monforte
- Champion yoghurt: The Yoghurt Shop – Passionately passionfruit
- Champion fresh product: Jersey Fresh – Pouring cream
- Champion icecream: 48 Flavours – Pear gorgonzola fig and roasted walnut icecream
- Most outstanding dairy exhibit: 48 Flavours – Pear gorgonzola fig and roasted walnut icecream
- Best innovative dairy product: Beston Pure Foods – Edwards Crossing LoSal cheddar block
- Champion chocolate: Bracegirdles House of Fine Chocolate – Mango mint
- Most successful chocolate exhibitor: Bracegirdles