19 YEAR CELEBRATION | www.cheesefestival.co.za

#Support #SmallCheeseMakers at the SA Cheese Festival

Joyene Isaacs (HOD, WCDoA), Gerald van der Merwe (Foxenburg Farm Supervisor), Johan Ehlers (CEO, Agri-Expo), Beverley Schäfer (Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities), Khuselo Mchithakali (Foxenburg Cheesemaker) and John Tshabalala (Absa Managing Executive for the Eastern and Western Cape).

The South African Cheese Festival, presented for the 18th time this year from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April 2019, annually provides a number of small cheesemakers the opportunity to receive significant exposure for their businesses and products.

“The SA Cheese Festival has been bringing cheese producers and cheese lovers together for almost two decades,” says Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, organisers of the SA Cheese Festival. “This year, with the support of our partners the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and Absa, we can once again offer boutique cheese makers the opportunity to introduce their cheeses to more than 30 000 visitors as part of our #Support #SmallCheeseMakers project.”

“We encourage the public to come and support these entrepreneurs who, despite the drought, come from far and wide to introduce their unique handmade cheeses to cheese lovers at the SA Cheese Festival,” Ehlers adds.

This year, visitors can look out for small cheeseries such as Karoo Goat’s Milk (Loxton), Kasselshoop (Stilbaai), Foxenburg Estate (Wellington), Bettie Bok (Lambertsbaai), Forest Hill (Klapmuts), Puglia (Cape Town), Rockvale Cheesery (Bronkhorstspruit), Vredesberg (Kareedouw), La Petit France (Howick) and TlaquePaque (Klein Brakrivier).

Unique platform contributes to economy
Small cheesemakers agree that exposure to such a big group of consumers is worth its weight in gold and in this case, cheese. According to Liesel Kasselman from Kasselshoop the festival plays an enormous role in small cheesemakers’ market research, product development and relationship building with buyers. “The Cheese Festival opened retail doors for us, allowing us to increase our production from 500kg to 10 ton per month,” she says. “Our personnel also grew from seven to 20 members.”

Jan van der Merwe of Vredesberg Cheese, who participated for the first time in 2018, says the marketing opportunities created through their participation was invaluable for a new small business. “The SA Cheese Festival gives us as small cheesemakers the platform to compete on a commercial level and to become part of the economy. We could already double our goat herd with the new demand for products. We are also busy negotiating with a big retail chain to stock our products on their shelves.”

“The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is proud to support these boutique cheesemakers as they form an integral part of the agricultural value chain,” says Joyene Isaacs, Head of the WCDoA. “Although consumers are increasingly enjoying artisanal cheeses, small cheesemakers are facing tremendous challenges on their journey to economic sustainability. The opportunity that the SA 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 John Tshabalala, Absa Managing Executive for the Eastern and Western Cape. “The success of the partnership is twofold. Firstly, the project creates exposure for these small cheesemakers’ products, with the potential to give them faster access to shop shelves. Secondly, the communities where these cheesemakers run their businesses simultaneously receive an economic boost as a growing industry creates new job opportunities.”

Date, time and tickets
The SA Cheese Festival will take place from Friday 26 April to Sunday 28 April 2019 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch. No tickets will be available at the gates. Tickets are available at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers at R180 per person per day. Senior citizens pay R120 and children aged 2 to 13 pay R20.

 

 

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No Alcohol will be served to persons under the age of 18.