In a state renowned for its distinct quality and incredible variety of cheeses, Clewiston’s own Hato Protrero Farm, Inc. took home the top prize in two different categories at the 2014 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest held in Madison, Wis.
The judging took place Aug. 19 through 21 with Hato Protrero winning the top spot in the Latin American Cheese category and the Open Class Ice Cream category. Hato Protrero’s jalapeño cheese and soursop ice cream were the winning products, earning 99.8 and 99.9 out of 100 points, consecutively.
“It felt really good [to win]. We’re really happy,” said Javier Gonzalez, plant director for Hato Protrero Farms. “Last year was really tough because we submitted every product and only won with our drinkable yogurt. This year, we entered the same amount and won with two products.”
Gonzalez, encouraged with the company’s progress, says it will enter its products to be judged at the Wold Dairy Expo every year.
This year, the dairy product contest received 1,055 entries from dairy processors across North America and featured numerous product classes, including cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream dips, fluid milk and more. Those product classes are also broken down into specific categories, like the Latin American cheese category for which Hato Protrero Farms took home the gold.
Other categories include traditional favorites, such as plain cream cheese, goat milk cheese and lowfat chocolate milk. Then there are the more eccentric categories, which featured products like ranch and southwest sour cream dips, and vanilla and chocolate organic protein shakes.
Judges take several things into consideration while determining a winner in each category, including taste, texture, visual defects and packaging.
The winning products from each category are then auctioned off, with a portion of the proceeds used to fund various scholarships benefiting students pursuing careers in the dairy industry. This year’s auction will take place on Sept. 30 in Madison, Wisc.
But Clewiston residents don’t need to travel all the way to Wisconsin to sample the winning jalapeño cheese and soursop ice cream from Hato Protrero Farms. They can simply stop by Hato Protrero’s store, located on 611 E. Obispo Ave. in Clewiston.