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Wisconsin-made cheese wins world championship for first time since 1988

A cheese made in the United States has won the World Championship Cheese Contest for the first time since 1988.

The top prize was awarded in Madison for a smear-ripened hard cheese made in Monroe, Wisconsin, by Fitchburg-based Emmi Roth USA, which is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Emmi Group.

“1988’s a long time ago,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which runs the contest, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

According to the newspaper, the last cheese from the U.S. to win the competition was when Dale Olson of Burnett Dairy Cooperative in northwestern Wisconsin won for a string cheese.

Wisconsin has more licensed cheesemakers than any other state, and Wisconsin cheesemakers produce more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese each year. Ninety percent of Wisconsin’s milk supply is used to make more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese every year, according to  dairydoingmore.org.

Wisconsin cheese wins more awards than any other state or nation. State-produced cheeses have been named "U.S. Champion" at the 2009, 2011 and 2013 biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contests. Wisconsin cheesemakers have won 13 out of 17 "awards since the contest began in 1981.

The first runner-up in the biennial contest was a smear-ripened semi-soft cheese made by Johannes Schefer of Switzerland, while second runner-up was an aged Gouda from Friesland Campina Export in the Netherlands. An an Emmentaler, a rinded Swiss-style cheese from Switzerland won the top prize last year — its fourth win in the last five competitions — had won four of the last five competitions.

A smear ripened semi-soft cheese made by from Switzerland was the first runner up, followed by an aged gouda from the Netherlands, which was second runner up.

Other recent winners have come from the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Australia.

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