Platform for small cheese makers

SA Cheese festival a unique platform for small cheese makers

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The South African Cheese Festival, presented for the 17th time this year from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 April 2018, annually affords a number of small cheese makers the opportunity to receive significant exposure for their businesses and products.

“The Cheese Festival has been bringing cheese producers and cheese lovers together for over a decade. This year, with the support of our partners the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Absa, we can once again offer boutique cheese makers the opportunity to introduce their cheeses to more than 30 000 visitors,” says Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, organisers of the SA Cheese Festival.

Improved market access

“Since the first SA Cheese Festival seventeen years ago, Agri-Expo has taken a number of small cheese makers under its wing. Today some of them are established brand names with products awarded as SA Champions or Qualité winners at the SA Dairy Championships,” says Ehlers.

“The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is proud to support these boutique cheese makers as they form an integral part of agriculture’s added value,” says Joyene Isaacs, Head of Department. “Although consumers are increasingly enjoying artisanal cheeses, new small cheese makers are exposed to tremendous challenges on their journey to economic sustainability. The opportunity that the Cheese Festival creates in relation to market access, is indeed commendable.”

Absa’s involvement in the SA Cheese Festival makes absolute business sense, according to their Provincial Head: Business Banking in the Western Cape, Willie Zastron. “The success of the partnership lies not only in exposure for these small cheese makers’ products. The communities where these cheese makers run their businesses simultaneously receive an economic boost as a growing industry creates new job opportunities. The exposure for these small cheese makers also has the potential to give them faster access to shop shelves,” Zastron adds.

Boutique cheeseries at the festival

Visitors can look out for small cheeseries such as Langbaken Karoo Cheese (Williston), Taaibosch Cheese (Heidelberg, Southern Cape), Karoo Goat’s Milk (Loxton), Kasselshoop (Stilbaai), Foxenburg Estate (Wellington), Bettie Bok (Lambertsbaai), Noah’s Cheese (Clarens), Rockvale Cheesery (Bronkhorstspruit), Vredesberg (Kareedouw), La Petit France (Howick) and TlaquePaque (Klein Brakrivier).

Small cheese makers agree that exposure to such a big group of consumers is worth its weight in gold. According to Liesel Kasselman from Kasselshoop the festival plays an enormous role to introduce small cheese makers to the public. “We view the Cheese Festival as one of the corner stones of Kasselshoop with regards to market research, product development and relationship building with buyers,” she says. “The Cheese Festival opened retail doors for us, allowing us to increase our production from 500kg to 10 ton per month. Our personnel on the farm grew from seven to 20 members. A big part of our success is due to Agri-Expo and their partners’ vision and support.”

Date, time and ticket details

The SA Cheese Festival takes place from Friday, 27 April to Sunday, 29 April 2018 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch. Tickets are available at any Computicket outlet, Shoprite or Checkers store at R180 per person per day. Senior citizens pay R120 and children between 2 years and 13 years pay R20 per person per day. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The festival times are from 10:00 to 18:00 daily. Sandringham is conveniently located next to the N1, Stellenbosch turn-off (exit 39), between Cape Town and Paarl.

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Issue 46


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