This year's winner is quitting due to competition from blockformed Cheshires. Peter Crosskey reports Robert Hares became a five times winner of the Nantwich International Cheese Show when he collected the National Westminster Cup for Supreme Champion Cheese. He won with a single farmhouse Cheshire, collecting eight awards in total, with four category wins within the Cheshire classes. But his win is tinged with sadness following his decision to quit, taken in the days following his win (see news story). Farmhouse cheesemakers produce most, if not all, of the milk needed for their cheese on their own farms. Their cheeses are under increasing pressure from blockformed versions, made in larger batch sizes, for supermarket prepacks. There is frustration at the misuse of the term farmhouse'. "It's terribly vague at the moment and to say milk comes from dedicated farms' is not the same thing," said West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers commercial director David Keig. Nantwich has seen farmhouse territorials as frequent winners over the last decade, despite the fact that producers have been losing ground in supermarkets. The field comprised 1,768 cheeses from 19 countries competing in more than 100 classes. This year the web site was collecting entries every day, according to show committee chairman John Parkin. The UK's biggest and most prestigious cheese show was also the backdrop to a number of product launches: North Downs Dairy extended its Pilgrim's Choice range with its organic vintage line, while Garstang-based Dew-Lay had a stand for its new range of British organic cheeses. And CMA, the German central marketing agency, had over 50 cheeses from 14 producers, five of them at Nantwich for the first time. {{FEATURES }}

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